Abstract

Buried valleys are important hydrogeologic features of glaciated terrains. They often contain valuable groundwater resources; however, they can remain undetected by borehole-based hydrogeologic mapping or prospecting campaigns. Airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveys provide high-density information that can allow detailed features of buried valleys to be efficiently mapped over large geographic areas. Using AEM data for the Spiritwood Valley Aquifer system in Manitoba, Canada, we developed a 3D electric property model and a geologic model of the buried valley network. The 3D models were derived from voxel-based segmentation of electric resistivity obtained via spatially constrained inversion of two separate helicopter time-domain electromagnetic data sets (AeroTEM and versatile time-domain electromagnetic [VTEM]) collected over the survey area. Because the electric resistivity do not provide unequivocal information on subsurface lithology, we have used a cognitive procedure to interpret the electric property models of the aquifer complex, while simultaneously incorporating supporting information for the assignment of lithology in the 3D geologic model. For the Spiritwood model, supporting information included seismic reflection data and borehole records. These data constrained valley geometry and provided lithologic benchmarks at specific borehole sites and along seismic transects. The large-scale AeroTEM survey provided the basis for modeling the regional extent and connectivity of the Spiritwood Valley Aquifer system, whereas the local-scale VTEM survey provided higher near-surface resolution and insight into a detailed shallow architecture of individual buried valleys and their fill.

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