Use of borehole radar reflection logging to monitor steam-enhanced remediation in fractured limestone--Results of numerical modelling and a field experiment

Journal of Applied Geophysics
By: , and 



Ground penetrating radar is an efficient geophysical method for the detection and location of fractures and fracture zones in electrically resistive rocks. In this study, the use of down-hole (borehole) radar reflection logs to monitor the injection of steam in fractured rocks was tested as part of a field-scale, steam-enhanced remediation pilot study conducted at a fractured limestone quarry contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons at the former Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, Maine, USA. In support of the pilot study, borehole radar reflection logs were collected three times (before, during, and near the end of steam injection) using broadband 100 MHz electric dipole antennas. Numerical modelling was performed to predict the effect of heating on radar-frequency electromagnetic (EM) wave velocity, attenuation, and fracture reflectivity. The modelling results indicate that EM wave velocity and attenuation change substantially if heating increases the electrical conductivity of the limestone matrix. Furthermore, the net effect of heat-induced variations in fracture-fluid dielectric properties on average medium velocity is insignificant because the expected total fracture porosity is low. In contrast, changes in fracture fluid electrical conductivity can have a significant effect on EM wave attenuation and fracture reflectivity. Total replacement of water by steam in a fracture decreases fracture reflectivity of a factor of 10 and induces a change in reflected wave polarity. Based on the numerical modelling results, a reflection amplitude analysis method was developed to delineate fractures where steam has displaced water. Radar reflection logs collected during the three acquisition periods were analysed in the frequency domain to determine if steam had replaced water in the fractures (after normalizing the logs to compensate for differences in antenna performance between logging runs). Analysis of the radar reflection logs from a borehole where the temperature increased substantially during the steam injection experiment shows an increase in attenuation and a decrease in reflectivity in the vicinity of the borehole. Results of applying the reflection amplitude analysis method developed for this study indicate that steam did not totally replace the water in most of the fractures. The observed decreases in reflectivity were consistent with an increase in fracture-water temperature, rather than the presence of steam. A limiting assumption of the reflection amplitude analysis method is the requirement for complete displacement of water in a fracture by steam. 

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Use of borehole radar reflection logging to monitor steam-enhanced remediation in fractured limestone--Results of numerical modelling and a field experiment
Series title Journal of Applied Geophysics
DOI 10.1016/j.jappgeo.2005.12.006
Volume 60
Issue 1
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Office of Ground Water, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 14 p.
First page 41
Last page 54
Country United States
State Maine
City Limestone
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