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The Hatfield Buried Valley: A review of the aquifer characteristics

There is no synthesis of the Hatfield buried valley (HBV), despite its potential significance to water resource management in the prairies. Information on orientation, geometry and fill characteristics, documented in numerous government and industry reports, needs to be summarized to
support improved aquifer assessment. This paper sets out the existing knowledge of the HBV and highlights the case for new framework data to address societal water issues in a rapidly developing provincial economy dominated by resource extraction.
The HBV in Saskatchewan is an ~800 km long valley that traverses the province obliquely from the northwest to the southeast. Plan geometry shows a main trunk valley that bifurcates in places. There is limited detail on lateral valleys; however, a number of regional northeast-trending valleys
appear to terminate at the HBV (Swift Current, Tyner, Battleford). The valley is predominantly cut in Cretaceous shale, and locally Judith River Formation sandstone. Valley depth is variable with depths of >100m and widths up to ~5km. It is buried by >200 m of sediment and can be partially
exhumed where intersected by modern valleys (e.g. Qu¿Appelle River). Sediment fill is poorly documented regionally with only a few high quality site specific datasets. Basal HBV fill is Empress Group sand and gravel that is < 100 m thick. It consists of a lower pre-glacial unit that is
commonly non-calcareous and includes mountain-derived quartzite and chert gravel. An upper pro-glacial sand and gravel unit is characterized by Shield-derived igneous, metamorphic, and carbonate clasts. This unit is overlain by multiple inter-bedded diamicton and sand and gravel fill-units assigned
to the Sutherland and Saskatoon groups. Sutherland and Saskatoon till units are differentiated by Christiansen in the Saskatchewan area on the basis of carbonate content, texture, Atterberg limits, and electrical resistance. The Sutherland Group tills have lower carbonate content, higher clay and
lower sand contents, higher liquid limit and lower electrical resistance than do tills of the Saskatoon Group. Much of the valley-fill stratigraphy has been mapped from water wells records, which does not permit differentiation of this formal stratigraphy; nevertheless, their main hydrogeological
properties are similar and controlled by inter-till sand units. These documented characteristics of the HBV are supplemented by new high-quality 3D from airborne electromagnetic (EM) and seismic reflection data in southeast. These data reveal a more complicated network of main valley architecture,
smaller buried valleys, erosional features, and sedimentary deposits than have been previously recorded.

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