Predictive groundwater modeling requires accurate information about aquifer characteristics. Geophysical imaging is a powerful tool for delineating aquifer properties at an appropriate scale and resolution, but it suffers from problems of ambiguity. One way to overcome such limitations is to adopt a simultaneous multitechnique inversion strategy. We have developed a methodology for aquifer characterization based on structural joint inversion of multiple geophysical data sets followed by clustering to form zones and subsequent inversion for zonal parameters. Joint inversions based on cross-gradient structural constraints require less restrictive assumptions than, say, applying predefined petrophysical relationships and generally yield superior results. This approach has, for the first time, been applied to three geophysical data types in three dimensions. A classification scheme using maximum likelihood estimation is used to determine theparameters of a Gaussian mixture model that defines zonal geometries from joint-inversion tomograms. The resulting zones are used to estimate representative geophysical parameters of each zone, which are then used for field-scale petrophysical analysis. A synthetic study demonstrated how joint inversion of seismic and radar traveltimes and electrical resistance tomography (ERT) data greatly reduces misclassification of zones (down from 21.3% to 3.7%) and improves the accuracy of retrieved zonal parameters (from 1.8% to 0.3%) compared to individual inversions. We applied our scheme to a data set collected in northeastern Switzerland to delineate lithologic subunits within a gravel aquifer. The inversion models resolve three principal subhorizontal units along with some important 3D heterogeneity. Petrophysical analysis of the zonal parameters indicated approximately 30% variation in porosity within the gravel aquifer and an increasing fraction of finer sediments with depth.

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