Surface nuclear magnetic resonance, a noninvasive geophysical method, measures a signal directly related to the amount of water in the subsurface. This allows for low-cost quantitative estimates of hydraulic parameters. In practice, however, additional factors influence the signal, complicating interpretation. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Central Platte Natural Resources District, evaluated whether hydraulic parameters derived from surface nuclear magnetic resonance data could provide valuable input into groundwater models used for evaluating water-management practices. Two calibration sites in Dawson County, Nebraska, were chosen based on previous detailed hydrogeologic and geophysical investigations. At both sites, surface nuclear magnetic resonance data were collected, and derived parameters were compared with results from four constant-discharge aquifer tests previously conducted at those same sites. Additionally, borehole electromagnetic-induction flowmeter data were analyzed as a less-expensive surrogate for traditional aquifer tests. Building on recent work, a novel surface nuclear magnetic resonance modeling and inversion method was developed that incorporates electrical conductivity and effects due to magnetic-field inhomogeneities, both of which can have a substantial impact on the data. After comparing surface nuclear magnetic resonance inversions at the two calibration sites, the nuclear magnetic-resonance-derived parameters were compared with previously performed aquifer tests in the Central Platte Natural Resources District. This comparison served as a blind test for the developed method. The nuclear magnetic-resonance-derived aquifer parameters were in agreement with results of aquifer tests where the environmental noise allowed data collection and the aquifer test zones overlapped with the surface nuclear magnetic resonance testing. In some cases, the previously performed aquifer tests were not designed fully to characterize the aquifer, and the surface nuclear magnetic resonance was able to provide missing data. In favorable locations, surface nuclear magnetic resonance is able to provide valuable noninvasive information about aquifer parameters and should be a useful tool for groundwater managers in Nebraska.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Quantification of aquifer properties with surface nuclear magnetic resonance in the Platte River valley, central Nebraska, using a novel inversion method
Scientific Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey
Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center