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Mapping hydraulically permeable fractures using directional borehole radar and hole-to-hole tomography with a saline tracer

David L. Wright' and John W. Lane Jr.*
'U.S. Geological Survey, M.S. 964, Box 25046, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225
dwright@usgs.gov
*U.S. Geological Survey, 11 Sherman Place U-5015, Storrs, CT 06269-5015
jwlane@usgs.gov

Abstract

Reflection-mode borehole radar and transmission-mode radar tomograms image heterogeneity in the electromagnetic properties of rock. Heterogeneity may be produced by interfaces between different rock types, foliation, and fracturing. In crystalline rock, hydraulic flow is primarily through fracture networks rather than through the rock matrix. Borehole radar methods have been applied to help map flow paths in crystalline rock. Correlation of features identified in borehole radar reflection records and tomograms with hydraulic flow paths is generally uncertain because the records show responses to heterogeneity of all- kinds, not just to hydraulically permeable fractures. Even in lithologically uniform rock, it is often not possible to distinguish fractures of high hydraulic permeabilities from those with low permeabilities.

It is possible to “erase” signatures from lithologic interfaces and rock fabric to identify the signatures of hydraulically permeable fractures by using a saline tracer in fractured crystalline rock because the electrical properties of the rock, except for the fractures that are open to infiltration by the brine solution, remain the same after the injection of the brine and may be removed by examining differences. Saline tracer experiments were carried out in 1995, 1996, and 1997 in the FSE well field at the Mirror Lake fractured-rock hydrology research site in Grafton County, New Hampshire. Comparisons of results from directional radar reflection surveys to well-to-well difference attenuation tomography in the same pairs of wells show generally good correspondence between the location of radar reflections and attenuation anomalies. Our results demonstrate the advantage of using a saline tracer for before-and-after difference mapping of hydraulically permeable fractures in lithologically heterogeneous rock and the utility of the coordinated use of directional borehole radar and hole-to-hole radar tomography.


Final copy as submitted to Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems for publication as: Wright, D.L., and Lane J.W. Jr., 1998, Mapping hydraulically permeable fractures using directional borehole radar and hole-to-hole tomography with a saline tracer, in Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems, March 22-26, 1998, Chicago, Illinois, Proceedings: Wheat Ridge, Colo., Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society, p. 379-388.


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