In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 411 April 18, 2006

OFFICE OF GROUND WATER TECHNICAL MEMORANDUM NO. 2006.03

SUBJECT: Guidance for Determining the U.S. Geological Survey Role in Borehole Geophysical Logging

This memorandum presents general guidance for defining the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) role in conducting borehole geophysical logging. Geophysical logging involves the collection of depth-specific measurements of geohydrologic properties through use of downhole sensors housed in logging probes that are connected to a surface control unit. Geophysical logs are used to provide detailed information on subsurface conditions essential for the development, management, and monitoring of ground-water resources and the characterization and remediation of contaminated sites.

With recent advances in technology, geophysical logging increasingly is used in ground-water investigations. Examples of applications to ground-water investigations include:

The USGS has a long history of leadership in the development and application of geophysical logging tools and methods for ground-water investigations (Schneider, 1962; Keys and MacCary, 1971; Taylor and Dey, 1985; Keys, 1990). Examples of recent USGS research and development include the ‘tool-box’ approach to geophysical characterization of fractured rock aquifers (Haeni and others, 2001), use of oriented acoustic and optical image logs (Williams and Johnson, 2004), use of borehole radar logs in single- and cross-hole tomography modes (Lane and others, 1994; Day-Lewis and others, 2003), and use of flowmeter logs in unconsolidated and fractured rock aquifers (Hess, 1982; Hess and Paillet, 1990). These applications of borehole geophysical logging have been effective for characterizing highly heterogeneous and complex aquifers, and the approach has been accepted by regulatory agencies and industry (Williams and Conger, 1990; Morin and others, 1997; Johnson and others, 2001; Lane and others, 2001, 2002). The involvement of the USGS in geophysical logging research and development is beneficial to the public and considered an appropriate role for the USGS.

In recent years, technology transfer efforts by the USGS (e.g., Williams and Lane, 1998; Singha and others, 2000), other government agencies, and academia, coupled with significant industry investment, has increased the availability and breadth of private sector geophysical logging services. Given this increased availability, we must ensure that geophysical logging conducted by the USGS does not conflict with work more appropriately done by the private sector.
The appropriateness of geophysical logging done by the USGS must be considered in light of the state of the technology, the objectives of the study, and the overall context of the project. One of the key roles of the USGS is to provide new understanding, approaches, technology, and research for defining and solving water-resource problems.

Geophysical logging performed by the USGS is appropriate if the acquired logs are within the scope of a project that advances understanding of temporal or spatial hydrologic properties or processes, increases knowledge of the regional hydrology, geology, or geochemistry, or improves the current state of borehole logging technology.

The following are examples of research needs that the USGS considers appropriate for our involvement:

A project should not provide geophysical logging ‘services’ that are both (1) readily available from the private sector and (2) conducted solely to meet an operational or regulatory requirement with limited scientific value beyond the immediate need of the cooperator. WRD Policy Memorandum No. 04.01
(http://water.usgs.gov/admin/memo/policy/wrdpolicy04.01.html) provides more information on avoiding competition with the private sector and on projects that are not appropriate for WRD.

William M. Alley /s/
Chief, Office of Ground Water

Distribution: A, B, DC, OGW Staff, Regional and Water Science Center Ground-Water Specialists

References

Day-Lewis, F.D., Lane, J.W., Jr., Harris, J.M., and Gorelick, S.M., 2003, Time-lapse imaging of saline tracer tests using cross-borehole radar tomography: Water Resources Research, v. 39, no. 10, 14 p. 1290, doi: 10.1029/2002WR001722.

Haeni, F.P., Lane, J.W., Jr., Williams, J.H., and Johnson, C.D., 2001, Use of a geophysical toolbox to characterize ground-water flow in fractured rock, in Fractured Rock 2001 Conference, Proceedings, Toronto, Ontario, March 26-28, 2001: Smithville Phase IV Bedrock Remediation Program, Smithville, Ontario, CD-ROM.

Hess, A.E., 1982, A heat-pulse flowmeter for measuring low velocities in boreholes: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 82-699, 39 p.

Hess, A.E. and Paillet, F.L., 1990, Applications of the thermal-pulse flowmeter in the hydraulic characterization of fractured rocks: American Society for Testing and Materials, Standard Technical Publication 1101, p.99-112.

Johnson, C.D., Lane, J.W., Jr., Williams, J.H., and Haeni, F.P., 2001, Application of geophysical methods to delineate contamination in fractured rock at the University of Connecticut landfill, Storrs, Connecticut, in Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems, Denver, Colorado, March 4-7, 2001, Proceedings: Wheat Ridge, Colo., Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society, CD-ROM.

Keys, W.S., 1990, Borehole geophysics applied to ground-water investigations: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, book 2, chap. E-2, 149 p.

Keys, W.S., and MacCary, L.M., 1971, Application of borehole geophysics to water-resources investigations: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, book 2, chap. E1, 126 p. (reprinted 1976).

Lane, J.W., Jr., Williams, J.H., Johnson, C.D., Savino, Sr. D.-M., and Haeni, F.P., 2002, An integrated geophysical and hydraulic investigation to characterize a fractured-rock aquifer, Norwalk, Connecticut: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigation Report 01-4133, 97 p.

Lane, J.W., Jr., Williams, J.H., Johnson, C.D., Savino, Sr. D.-M., and Haeni, F.P., 2001, Application of a geophysical "tool-box" approach to characterization of fractured-rock aquifers—a case study from Norwalk, Connecticut, in Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems, Denver, Colorado, March 4-7, 2001, Proceedings: Wheat Ridge, Colo., Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society, CD-ROM.

Lane, J.W., Jr., Haeni, F.P., and Williams, J.H., 1994, Detection of bedrock fractures and lithologic changes using borehole radar at selected sites, in Fifth International Conference on Ground Penetrating Radar, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, June 12-16, 1993, Proceedings: Waterloo, Ontario, Waterloo Centre for Groundwater Research, p. 577-592.

Morin, R.H., Carleton, G.B., and Poirier, S., 1997, Fractured-aquifer hydrogeology from geophysical logs—the Passaic Formation, New Jersey: Ground Water, v. 35, no. 2, p. 328-338.

Schneider, R., 1962, An application of thermometry to the study of ground water: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 1544-B, p.B-1-B16.
Singha, Kamini, Lane, J.W., Jr., and Kimball, Kari, 2000, Borehole-radar methods—tools for characterization of fractured rock: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 054-00, 4 p.

Taylor, T.A., and Dey, J.A., 1985, Bibliography of borehole geophysics as applied to ground-water hydrology: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 926, 62 p.
Williams, J.H., and Conger, R.W., 1990, Preliminary delineation of contaminated water-bearing fractures intersected by open-hole bedrock wells: Ground Water Monitoring, v. 10, no. 3, p. 118-126.

Williams, J.H., and Johnson, C.D., 2004, Acoustic and optical borehole-wall imaging for fractured-rock aquifer studies: Journal of Applied Geophysics, v. 55, no. 1-2, p. 151-159.

Williams, J.H., and Lane, J.W., Jr., 1998, Advances in borehole geophysics for ground-water investigations: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 002-98, 6 p.