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U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the Technical Meeting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 20-24, 1993, Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4015

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Geophysical Investigations of Heterogeneity and Scale at the Princeton, Minnesota, ManagementSystems Evaluation Area

by

Jeffrey E. Lucius (U.S. Geological Survey; Denver, Colo.) and Gary R. Olhoeft (U.S. Geological Survey; Denver, Colo.)

Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey collected more than 1 gigabyte of ground penetrating radar (GPR) data in 1991 at the Princeton, Minnesota, Management Systems Evaluation Area (MSEA) to generate detailed images of the subsurface and to determine the three-dimensional spatial variability of hydrogeologic properties. The Princeton MSEA is located on the Anoka glacial outwash sand plain northwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The GPR system transmitted electromagnetic pulses that propagated through the ground. The pulses were partially reflected back to the GPR antennas when they encountered changes in electrical properties (which are controlled by water content, bulk density, lithology, and porosity). The GPR data were computer processed to produce geometrically correct images of the subsurface. Reflector continuity, amplitude, configuration, and spatial frequency were analyzed in the GPR images to determine lithologic structure, depositional processes, moisture content, stratification patterns, and grain-size distributions. Changes in water-table capillary fringe thickness, areas of possible focused recharge, areas consisting of eolian or other fine-grained deposition, and undulations of the till surface were identified. The GPR images were also correlated with lithology logs from sampling wells. For agricultural sites with very little or no clay near the surface, ground penetrating radar offers a fast, cost-effective, high-resolution method for extending information acquired at test wells and for presenting a comprehensive view of subsurface structure.

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