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Geophysical investigations at Hidden Dam, Raymond, California: Summary of fieldwork and data analysis

April 6, 2010

Geophysical field investigations have been carried out at the Hidden Dam in Raymond, California for the purpose of better understanding the hydrogeology and seepage-related conditions at the site. Known seepage areas on the northwest right abutment area of the downstream side of the dam are documented by Cedergren. Subsequent to the 1980 seepage study, a drainage blanket with a subdrain system was installed to mitigate downstream seepage. Flow net analysis provided by Cedergren suggests that the primary seepage mechanism involves flow through the dam foundation due to normal reservoir pool elevations, which results in upflow that intersects the ground surface in several areas on the downstream side of the dam. In addition to the reservoir pool elevations and downstream surface topography, flow is also controlled by the existing foundation geology as well as the presence or absence of a horizontal drain within the downstream portion of the dam.

The purpose of the current geophysical work is to (1) identify present-day seepage areas that may not be evident due to the effectiveness of the drainage blanket in redirecting seepage water, and (2) provide information about subsurface geologic structures that may control subsurface flow and seepage. These tasks are accomplished through the use of two complementary electrical geophysical methods, self-potentials (SP) and direct-current (DC) electrical resistivity, which have been commonly utilized in dam-seepage studies. SP is a passive method that is primarily sensitive to active subsurface groundwater flow and seepage, whereas DC resistivity is an active-source method that is sensitive to changes in subsurface lithology and groundwater saturation.

The focus of this field campaign was on the downstream area on the right abutment, or northwest side of the dam, as this is the main area of interest regarding seepage. Two exploratory self-potential lines were also collected on the downstream left abutment of the dam to identify potential seepage in that area. This report is primarily a summary of the field geophysical data acquisition, with some preliminary results and interpretation. Further work will involve a more rigorous analysis of the geophysical datasets and an examination of a large dataset of historical observations of water levels in a number of observation wells and piezometers compared with reservoir elevation. In addition, a partially saturated flow model will be developed to better understand seepage patterns given the available information about dam construction, geophysical results, and data from installed observation wells and piezometers.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2010
Title Geophysical investigations at Hidden Dam, Raymond, California: Summary of fieldwork and data analysis
DOI 10.3133/ofr20101013
Authors Burke J. Minsley, Bethany L. Burton, Scott Ikard, Michael H. Powers
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2010-1013
Index ID ofr20101013
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center