We studied time-lapse gravity surveys applied to the monitoring of an artificial aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) system in Leyden, Colorado. An abandoned underground coal mine has been developed into a subsurface water reservoir. Water from surface sources is injected into the artificial aquifer during winter for retrieval and use in summer. As a key component in the geophysical monitoring of the artificial ASR system, three microgravity surveys were conducted over the course of ten months during the initial water-injection stage. The time-lapse microgravity surveys successfully detected the distribution of injected water as well as its general movement. Quantitative interpretation based on 3D inversions produced hydrologically meaningful density-contrast models and imaged major zones of water distribution. The site formed an ideal natural laboratory for investigating various aspects of time-lapse gravity methodology. Through this application, we have studied systematically all steps of the method, including survey design, data acquisition, processing, and quantitative interpretation.

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