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Imaging and characterization of facies heterogeneity in an alluvial aquifer using GPR full-waveform inversion and cone penetration tests

Gueting, Nils, Klotzsche, Anja, van der Kruk, Jan, Vanderborght, Jan, Vereecken, Harry, Englert, Andreas
Journal of hydrology 2015 v.524 pp. 680-695
aquifers, cluster analysis, electrical conductivity, ground-penetrating radar, groundwater flow, image analysis, mathematical models, porosity, prediction, refractive index, sediments, tomography
Spatially highly resolved mapping of aquifer heterogeneities is critical for the accurate prediction of groundwater flow and contaminant transport. Here, we demonstrate the value of using full-waveform inversion of crosshole ground penetrating radar (GPR) data for aquifer characterization. We analyze field data from the Krauthausen test site, where crosshole GPR data were acquired along a transect of 20m length and 10m depth. Densely spaced cone penetration tests (CPT), located close to the GPR transect, were used to validate and interpret the tomographic images obtained from GPR. A strong correlation was observed between CPT porosity logs and porosity estimates derived from GPR using the Complex Refractive Index Model (CRIM). A less pronounced correlation was observed between electrical conductivity data derived from GPR and CPT. Cluster analysis of the GPR data defined three different subsurface facies, which were found to correspond to sediments with different grain size and porosity. In conclusion, our study suggests that full-waveform inversion of crosshole GPR data followed by cluster analysis is an applicable approach to identify hydrogeological facies in alluvial aquifers and to map their architecture and connectivity. Such facies maps provide valuable information about the subsurface heterogeneity and can be used to construct geologically realistic subsurface models for numerical flow and transport prediction.