Hydrodynamic Development of the Palo Duro Basin and Other Mechanisms Creating Possible Transient Flow Conditions

Access full-text files




Senger, Rainer K.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Characterization of the regional flow regime in the Palo Duro Basin is assisted by numerical groundwater flow models as described by INTERA (1984), Senger and Fogg (1984), and Wirojanagud and others (1984). In general, the models which incorporate the available hydrogeologic information simulate hydraulic head distribution and fluxes under steady-state conditions. The computed heads are then compared to measured heads in order to evaluate the adequacy of the conceptual model.

The conceptualized flow regime in the Palo Duro Basin is generally assumed to represent a steady-state, gravity-driven flow system of the type described by Hubbert (1940). Groundwater flow is governed by the fluid potential along the topographic surface and permeability of the hydrostratigraphic units. In the Palo Duro Basin, extensive modification of the topography as a result of tectonic and geomorphologic processes has occurred within the last 15 million years (McGookey, 1984; Gustavson and others, 1981). Accordingly, it is possible that hydraulic heads observed in the Deep-Basin Brine aquifer represent transient conditions and that they are still equilibrating to modifications of topography in the past.

Significant hydrocarbon occurrences in the Texas Panhandle suggest other possible mechanisms creating transient flow conditions as a result of reservoir pressure decline due to hydrocarbon production.

The purpose of this study is to investigate transient flow conditions and to identify possible flow patterns resulting from changing hydrologic conditions with time. For this purpose, the model herein is used to simulate possible groundwater flow patterns caused by different tectonic and geomorphologic processes. The hydrodynamic development of the basin is crucial to the origin and hydrochemical evolution of the fluid in the deep basin. Changing hydraulic head distributions with time result in changes of groundwater flow paths. Consequently, transport of chemical constituents could have traveled along ancient pathways much different than is suggested by the present-day hydraulic head distribution observed in the basin.


LCSH Subject Headings