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Gravimétrie et surveillance sismique pour la modélisation hydrologique en milieu karstique : application au bassin du Durzon (Larzac, France)

Abstract : Karstic aquifers represent the most important fresh water reservoirs in many regions of the world like the Mediterranean Basin. However, because of complex processes of karstification, those aquifers are highly heterogeneous at all spatial scales and vulnerable to contamination. In this dissertation, we studied the potential of gravimetry and ambient seismic noise for hydrological modeling in karstic areas.The dolomitic area surrounding the “GEK” observatory in the Durzon catchment on the Larzac plateau, in France, is the preferred site for these studies. Inside the observatory, a superconducting gravimeter dedicated to hydrology has continuously measured gravity changes since 2011 with high precision, undertaken for the first time on a karst. From this gravity monitoring, we made conceptual hydrological models which laid the foundation of 1-D flow physical models. Indeed, gravimetry is an integrative hydro-geophysical method which allows 1) to consider the epikarst, locally heterogeneous as an equivalent tabular medium and 2) to define the types of transfer (fast & slow) occurring at the site. Especially, the lack of fast transfer through the GEK epikarst was precisely quantified for the first time at the field scale (~100m). Gravity-driven water mass balance with local meteorological data (evapotranspiration from a flux tower and precipitation) allowed setting the bottom outlet of the model to 1 mm.day-1. This flow has proved to be representative of the low-flow discharge at the only spring which represents all groundwater outflows from the catchment. This result supposes the homogeneity of the dolomitic epikarst almost at the basin scale. Model parameters were next calibrated using one year of ambient seismic noise monitored at two stations. Phase velocity changes obtained by cross-correlating the noise between 6 and 8 Hz were used as a ”timer” to follow the water infiltration between a depth of 30 and 60 meters. Thus, monitoring seismic velocity changes using ambient seismic noise demonstrates great potential for the study of deep and complex critical zones and could fill the instrumental gap currently existing in hydrology.Time-lapse gravity measurements with a spring-based portable gravimeter have also demonstrated the different behavior of two epikarsts and their variability at the scale of a few hundred meters. Monthly measurements around the observatory revealed the spatial homogeneity of this dolomitic epikarst: all the stations showed the same water storage changes. On the contrary, seasonal surface to depth gravity measurements along the underground passage of the Saint-Ferréol sinkhole, in limestone, have shown fast transfer and strong spatial variability of water storage. Lithology is then expected to play a part in the epikarst capacity to retain water. The precision needed to measure the weak hydrological induced signals during those surveys required robust methodology and an ambient temperature effect on measurements with spring-based gravimeter was observed in the field and quantified in the laboratory.
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Benjamin Fores. Gravimétrie et surveillance sismique pour la modélisation hydrologique en milieu karstique : application au bassin du Durzon (Larzac, France). Sciences de la Terre. Université Montpellier, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016MONTT128⟩. ⟨tel-01649606⟩

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