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Assessment of NMR logging for estimating hydraulic conductivity in glacial aquifers

May 10, 2020

Glacial aquifers are an important source of groundwater in the United States and require accurate characterization to make informed management decisions. One parameter that is crucial for understanding the movement of groundwater is hydraulic conductivity, K. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) logging measures the NMR response associated with the water in geological materials. By utilizing an external magnetic field to manipulate the nuclear spins associated with 1H, the time‐varying decay of the nuclear magnetization is measured. This logging method could provide an effective way to estimate K at submeter vertical resolution, but the models that relate NMR measurements to K require calibration. At two field sites in a glacial aquifer in central Wisconsin, we collected a total of four NMR logs and obtained measurements of K in their immediate vicinity with a direct‐push permeameter (DPP). Using a bootstrap algorithm to calibrate the Schlumberger‐Doll Research (SDR) NMR‐K model, we estimated K to within a factor of 5 of the DPP measurements. The lowest levels of accuracy occurred in the lower‐K (K < 10−4 m/s) intervals. We also evaluated the applicability of prior SDR model calibrations. We found the NMR calibration parameters varied with K, suggesting the SDR model does not incorporate all the properties of the pore space that control K. Thus, the expected range of K in an aquifer may need to be considered during calibration of NMR‐K models. This study is the first step toward establishing NMR logging as an effective method for estimating K in glacial aquifers.

Publication Year 2021
Title Assessment of NMR logging for estimating hydraulic conductivity in glacial aquifers
DOI 10.1111/gwat.13014
Authors Alexander K. Kendrick, Rosemary Knight, Carole D. Johnson, Gaisheng Liu, Steven Knobbe, Randall J. Hunt, James J. Butler
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Groundwater
Index ID 70216760
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wisconsin Water Science Center; WMA - Earth System Processes Division