Electrical conductivity imaging of aquifers connected to watercourses : a thesis focused on the Murray Darling Basin, Australia

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Electrical imaging of groundwater that interacts with surface watercourses provides detail on the extent of intervention needed to accurately manage both resources. It is particularly important where one resource is saline or otherwise polluted, where spatial quantification of the interacting resources is critical to water use planning and where losses from surface waterways need to be minimized in order to transport water long distances. Geo-electric arrays or transient electromagnetic devices can be towed along watercourses to image electrical conductivity (EC) at multiple depths within and beneath those watercourses. It has been found that in such environments, EC is typically related primarily to groundwater salinity and secondarily to clay content. Submerged geo-electric arrays can detect detailed canal-bottom variations if correctly designed. Floating arrays pass obstacles easily and are good for surveying constricted rivers and canals. Transient electromagnetic devices detect saline features clearly but have inferior ability to detect fine changes just below beds of watercourses. All require that water depth be measured by sonar or pressure sensors for successful elimination of effects of the water layer on the data. The meandering paths of rivers and canals, combined with the sheer volume of data typically acquired in waterborne surveys, results in a geo-referencing dilemma that cannot be accommodated using either 2D imaging or 3D voxel imaging. Because of this, software was developed by the author which allows users to view vertical section images wrapped along meandering paths in 3D space so that they resemble ribbons. Geo-electric arrays suitable for simultaneous imaging of both shallow and deep strata need exponentially spread receiver electrodes and elongated transmitter electrodes. In order to design and facilitate such arrays, signed monopole notation for arrays with iv segmented elongated electrodes was developed. The new notation greatly simplified generalized geo-electric array equations and led to processing efficiency. It was used in the development of new array design software and automated inversion software including a new technique for stable inversion of datasets including data with values below noise level. The Allen Exponential Bipole (AXB) array configuration was defined as a collinear arrangement of 2 elongated transmitter electrodes followed by receiver electrodes spaced exponentially from the end of the second transmitter electrode. A method for constructing such geo-electric arrays for use in rivers and canals was developed and the resulting equipment was refined during the creation of an extensive set of EC imaging case studies distributed across canals and rivers of the Australian Murray- Darling Basin. Man made and natural variations in aquifers connected to those canals and rivers have been clearly and precisely identified in more than 1000 kilometres of EC imagery.
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