Hydraulic conductivity (K) is one of the most important parameters of interest in groundwater applications because it quantifies the ease with which water can flow through an aquifer material. Hydraulic conductivity is typically measured by conducting aquifer tests or wellbore flow (WBF) logging. Of interest in our research is the use of proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) logging to obtain information about water-filled porosity and pore space geometry, the combination of which can be used to estimate K. In this study, we acquired a suite of advanced geophysical logs, aquifer tests, WBF logs, and sidewall cores at the field site in Lexington, Nebraska, which is underlain by the High Plains aquifer. We first used two empirical equations developed for petroleum applications to predict K from NMR logging data: the Schlumberger Doll Research equation (KSDR) and the Timur-Coates equation (KT-C), with the standard empirical constants determined for consolidated materials. We upscaled our NMR-derived K estimates to the scale of the WBF-logging K(KWBF-logging) estimates for comparison. All the upscaled KT-C estimates were within an order of magnitude of KWBF-logging and all of the upscaled KSDR estimates were within 2 orders of magnitude of KWBF-logging. We optimized the fit between the upscaled NMR-derived K and KWBF-logging estimates to determine a set of site-specific empirical constants for the unconsolidated materials at our field site. We conclude that reliable estimates of K can be obtained from NMR logging data, thus providing an alternate method for obtaining estimates of K at high levels of vertical resolution.
Additional publication details
Use of NMR logging to obtain estimates of hydraulic conductivity in the High Plains aquifer, Nebraska, USA