ABSTRACT

Discrete deep targets are a significant challenge for most surface-based geophysical techniques, even when considering high property contrasts. In general, surface-based geophysical methods lose lateral and vertical resolution with depth as a result of the limited acquisition geometry and increased signal attenuation. The former can be overcome through use of cross-borehole methods, but lateral localization is still needed for optimal borehole placement. As such, a relatively small, deep void located near the maximum depth of investigation (DOI) is very unlikely to be detected. Yet, secondary features associated with these voids can be exploited for enhanced detection performance. When voids are located below the groundwater table, a significant amount of dewatering and pumping is required to make them a functional passageway. This dewatering not only removes water from the void space but also the surrounding formation, resulting in a much larger, if more diffuse, secondary target: an induced groundwater table gradient. Many geophysical sensing methods are sensitive to subsurface moisture content. We have implemented a 2D joint-petrophysical mixing model (JPM), using inverted electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and inverted seismic refraction models to sense changes in the groundwater table gradient. Our results are validated using the depth to bedrock, groundwater-surface water information, ground-penetrating radar, and time-domain reflectometry methods. Our initial proof of concept is applied to a shallow area with a significant soil moisture gradient, through different surface soil types and bedrock. The 2D JPM results are used to generate an estimate of air, moisture, and matrix percent fractions in the investigation area, providing a clear delineation of the groundwater surface and associated gradient. This refined hydraulic gradient estimate can then be used to laterally locate a void at or below the DOI of ERT and seismic refraction.

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