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Handheld Thermal Imaging Cameras > Example: Arkansas

Thermal Imaging Camera Use: Assessing Groundwater Discharge to Arkansas Streams

As part of the USGS Groundwater Resources Program's Ozark Plateaus Aquifer System regional groundwater availability study, the USGS used handheld thermal imaging cameras in northwest Arkansas to identify locations where groundwater discharges and contributes to stream flow. USGS scientists used the handheld cameras to conduct field reconnaissance and test whether the camera could be used to directly observe groundwater flowing into streams in the study area.

Understanding and quantifying groundwater/surface-water interactions and how groundwater contributes to streams is an important part of the regional groundwater availability study. Using the camera, scientists observed discrete areas of groundwater discharge from a large spring as well as areas of diffuse, slow-moving flow through stream banks. In most cases, these areas of groundwater discharge would not have been visible to the naked eye. As a result of the successful test run of the equipment, project scientists plan to use thermal imaging cameras to guide efforts to quantify the amount of groundwater contribution to streams in areas of water quality concern and to inform groundwater flow models developed as part of the groundwater availability study.

The video below provides an overview of the USGS investigation to better understand groundwater/surface-water interaction in the Ozarks Plateau aquifer system and presents examples of the thermal imagery collected with the handheld camera.

(Video courtesy USGS Arkansas Water Science Center.)

For more information

For more information, refer to the USGS Ozark Plateaus Aquifer System regional groundwater availability study.

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