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Research paper: Managed aquifer recharge site assessment with electromagnetic imaging: Identification of recharge flow paths (2022)

Authors: Karissa Pepin, Rosemary Knight, Meredith Goebel-Szenher and Seogi Kang

Abstract: Surface spreading recharge, the intentional flooding of the ground surface to replenish a groundwater system, is one approach used to mitigate groundwater overdraft in California’s Central Valley (CV). Choosing appropriate sites for surface spreading recharge, in regard to the sites’ ability to convey water from the ground surface to the desired recharge depth, can be challenging because of limited knowledge of the properties of the subsurface. In this study, we present an approach for using a towed time-domain electromagnetic (tTEM) imaging method to develop three dimensional (3D) models of sediment type, map potential flow paths through the subsurface, and evaluate sites for surface spreading. We began with tTEM data from seven sites in the CV along with an existing resistivity-to-sediment type transform. We leveraged geostatistical methods to generate multiple 3D models of binary (flow and no-flow) sediment type from the tTEM data. We then developed two metrics to assess the quality of sites for recharge: (a) the depth to the shallowest no-flow unit beneath each point at the surface and (b) preferential flow paths lengths measured by finding the shortest distance through connected flowunits between surface points and the desired depth. We explored how these metrics can be used to identify optimal areas within a site, then developed a way to compare and assess the relative suitability of each site using the decay in the number of vertical flow paths as a function of depth. Our methods can be used to rapidly identify potential sites for surface spreading recharge.

Vadose Zone Journal


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