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Permeable rocks

Corymbia spp. Fish Penniseptum spp. Casuarina spp. Corymbia spp. Corymbia spp. Corymbia spp. Corymbia spp. Corymbia spp. Corymbia spp. Corymbia spp. Eucalyptus spp. Eucalyptus spp. Eucalyptus spp. Eucalyptus spp. Eucalyptus spp. Eucalyptus spp. Eucalyptus spp. Eucalyptus spp. Evapotranspiration Evapotranspiration Evapotranspiration Eucalyptus spp. Variable groundwater leakage Infiltration and percolation Alluvia Low permeability rock Fracture Fracture Fracture Fracture Negigible groundwater movement Spring Spring Infiltration and percolation Variable groundwater leakage Direction of groundwater movement Direction of groundwater movement Direction of groundwater movement Subterranean GDEs Subterranean GDEs Alluvia Infiltration and percolation Direction of groundwater movement Subterranean GDEs Terrestrial GDEs Terrestrial GDEs Terrestrial GDEs Terrestrial GDEs Terrestrial GDEs Surface expression GDEs Negigible groundwater movement Basement Basement Low permeability rock -satuated with groundwater Low permeability rock - saturated with groundwater Fracture Moderate to high permeability rock Low permeability rock Low permeability rock (saturated) Moderate to high permeability rock Evapotranspiration

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Permeable rocks can contain one or more unconfined, permeable rock aquifers, where groundwater is stored and transmitted through intergranular pore space, fractures, vesicles and/or weathered zone of the rock. When permeable rocks overlie relatively less permeable or impermeable rocks vertical groundwater movement is restricted. While groundwater will often continue to leak through the less permeable rock to some degree (e.g. through fractures), typically, groundwater moves laterally and is commonly discharged to the surface along the contact between the two rock types.

Unconfined, permeable rock aquifers may provide a range of ecosystems with water required to support their plant and animal communities, ecological processes and delivery of ecosystem services.

  • Palustrine (e.g. swamps), lacustrine (e.g. lakes) and riverine (e.g. streams and rivers) wetlands located down-gradient of the contact between a higher permeable rock and lower permeable rock may depend on the surface expression of groundwater from these permeable rock aquifers.
  • Terrestrial vegetation located up-gradient of the contact between a permeable and less permeable or impermeable rock may depend on the subsurface presence of groundwater in these permeable rock aquifers that is within their capillary zone.
  • Aquifers in permeable rocks may also support ecosystems within the aquifer itself, which sometimes is indicated by the presence of stygofauna.

This discharge of groundwater along the contact between two rocks may also support nearby channels, alluvium and associated aquatic ecosystems through prolonged flow or groundwater recharge.

Pictorial conceptual model PDF


Last updated: 18 December 2015

This page should be cited as:

Permeable rocks, WetlandInfo 2013, Queensland Government, Queensland, viewed 12 September 2017, <https://wetlandinfo.ehp.qld.gov.au/wetlands/ecology/aquatic-ecosystems-natural/groundwater-dependent/permeable-rocks/>.

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Heritage Protection