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Borehole Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR): a valuable tool for environmental site management

 [ Photo: Scientists hold borehole tool. ]

Hydrologists Carole Johnson and Alton Anderson (USGS) prepare a borehole nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) tool for logging.

Borehole nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is an emerging geophysical method being applied to hydrogeology investigations.

NMR is a quantitative geophysical method that can be used to make in situ assessments of porosity, water content, mobile and immobile water fraction, and estimates of permeability. While borehole NMR is commonly used in the oil and gas industry, it is only recently that NMR tools have been designed for use in small-diameter boreholes that are typically used in groundwater studies. This video presents an overview of borehole NMR and example applications for environmental site management.

Digital Object Identifer (DOI)

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Behroozmand, A.A., Auken, N.E., Christiansen, A.V., Müller-Petke, M. Johnson, C.D., Vilhelmsen, T.N., Barfod, A. A.-S., Ferré, T.P.A., and Knight, R.J., 2016, A detailed comparison of laboratory and borehole NMR estimated parameters in unconsolidated aquifers [abs.], in 2016 AGU Fall Meeting, Proceedings, San Francisco, California, 12-16 December 2016: Washington, D.C., American Geophysical Union.

Behroozmand, A.A., Keating, K., and Auken, E., 2014, A Review of the Principles and Applications of the NMR Technique for Near-Surface Characterization: Surveys in Geophysics, vol. 36, no. 1, pp.27–85,

Coates, G.R., Xiao, Lizhi, and Prammer, M.G, 1999, NMR logging principles and applications: Halliburton Energy Services. Last accessed on line 28 August 2017 at

Day-Lewis, F.D., Johnson, C.D., Slater, L.D., Robinson, J.L., Williams, J.H., Boyden, C.L., Werkema, D., and Lane, J.W. Jr., 2015, The Fractured Rock Geophysical Toolbox Method Selection Tool (FRGT-MST) v1.0: U.S. Geological Survey Software Release, 06 January 2016,

Dlubac, K., Knight, R., Song, Y.Q., Bachman, N., Grau, B., Cannia, J., and Williams, J., 2013, Use of NMR logging to obtain estimates of hydraulic conductivity in the High Plains aquifer, Nebraska, USA: Water Resources Research, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 1871–1886.

Johnson, C. D., Lane, J.W., White, E.A., and Werkema, Dale, 2017, Use of nuclear magnetic resonance and electromagnetic methods to monitor induced infiltration in an arid environment, [abs.] in Proceedings, SAGEEP 2017, 19-23 March 2017, Denver, Colorado:  Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society (EEGS), Denver, Colorado.

Johnson, C.D., Keating, K., Walsh, D.O., Lane, J.W, and Falzone, S., 2012, Use of borehole and surface nuclear magnetic resonance methods at Haddam Meadows State Park, Connecticut [abs.], in Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems, 25-29 March 2012, Tucson, Arizona, Proceedings: Denver, Colorado, Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society.

Johnson, C.D., LeBlanc, D.R., Prinos, S.T., Parker, Beth, and Lane, J.W., 2015, Estimating hydraulic properties with borehole NMR:  Examples from unconsolidated and fractured sedimentary rock aquifers [abs.], in Proceedings of NGWA Groundwater Summit, San Antonio, Texas, 16-18 March 2015: Westerville, Ohio, National Groundwater Association.

Johnson, C.D., Sorenson, Jason, LeBlanc, D.R., and Lane, J.W., 2014, Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) logging -- Lessons learned at the USGS Cape Cod Toxic Substances Hydrology Research Site, Massachusetts [abs.], in Proceedings, SAGEEP 2014, 16-20 March 2014, Boston, Massachusetts: Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society (EEGS), Denver, Colorado.

Johnson, C.D., Thiros, Susan, Pappas, K.L, and Lane, J.W., 2016, Application of Borehole Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Conventional Logs to Characterize an Unconsolidated Basin-Fill Aquifer at a site in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 29th Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP 2016) Denver, Colorado, USA, 20 - 24 March 2016

Johnson, C.D., White, E.A, LeBlanc, D.R., Phillips, N.J., Hull, R.Q., Stone ,B. D.,  and Lane, J.W. Jr., 2017, Combined use of Transient Electromagnetics, Passive Seismic, and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Methods to Characterize an Unconsolidated Aquifer on Cape Cod, Massachusetts [abs.] in Proceedings, SAGEEP 2017, , 19-23 March 2017, Denver, Colorado:  Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society (EEGS), Denver, Colorado.

Knight, R., Walsh, D. O., Butler, J. J., Grunewald, E., Liu, G., Parsekian, A. D., and Barrows, M., 2016, NMR Logging to Estimate Hydraulic Conductivity in Unconsolidated Aquifers: Groundwater, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 104–114.

Legchenko, A., and Valla, P., 2002, A review of the basic principles for proton magnetic resonance sounding measurements: Journal of Applied Geophysics, vol. 50, pp. 3-19,

Walsh, D., Turner, P., Grunewald, E., Zhang, H., Butler, J., Reboulet, E., Knobbe, S., Christy, T., Lane, J.W., Johnson, C.D., Munday, T., and Fitzpatrick, A., 2013, A Small-Diameter NMR Logging Tool for Groundwater Investigations : Groundwater,

For more information

For more information on this project, please contact Carole Johnson (Hydrologist, USGS Hydrogeophysics Branch), or call the Hydrogeophysics Branch at (860) 487-7402.

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