Within the State of Arkansas, there is an increasing number of aging dams and levees that have little to no documentation concerning their construction or composition. Surface geophysical surveys offer a non-intrusive method for investigating these structures to describe their lithologic makeup, evaluate the materials constructed upon, and identify potential flow paths through them. Techniques such as electrical resistivity tomography, seismic refraction, and electromagnetic induction have been used to image dams and levees. They require additional information from geologic outcrops, geotechnical borings, or drill cores to make informed geologic interpretations of the geophysical models. These geologic models then allow the owners of these structures to make more informed decisions about their operation and maintenance. Between 2011 and 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted geophysical and geotechnical investigations of three earthen structures in Arkansas. Electrical and electromagnetic geophysical data were used to develop lithologic models of these structures and characterize the underlying geology. Self-potential surveys were utilized to detect the movement of water through these structures and identify any possible seepage pathways. Geotechnical methods such as electric and hydraulic direct-push well logs and cores acted as a control on the geophysical interpretations and a confirmation of anomalies. This integrated approach detected the lack of an impermeable core within a levee, imaged a change in lithology of the bedrock forming the seal beneath a gravity dam, and identified a potential seepage feature within the core of an earthen dam. These results further support that this method of extending known lithologic features via surface and borehole geophysics is a useful approach for characterizing earthen water-control structures.

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