Soil contamination from industrial activities is a large problem in urban areas worldwide. Understanding the spreading of contamination to underlying aquifers is crucial to make adequate risk assessments and for designing remediation actions. A large part of the northern hemisphere has quaternary deposits consisting of glacial clayey till. The till often has a complex hydrogeological structure consisting of networks of fractures, sand stringers and sand lenses that each contribute to a transport network for water, free phase and dissolved contaminants. Thus, to determine the possible flow-paths of contaminants, the geology must be described in great detail. Normally, multiple boreholes would be drilled in order to describe the geology, but boreholes alone do not provide the needed resolution to map such sand lenses and their connectivity. Cross-borehole full-decay time-domain induced polarization (TDIP) is a new tool that allows for quantitatively mapping not only contrasts in bulk resistivity, but also contrasts in spectral IP parameters. We present a feasibility study with synthetic tests and a field application on a clayey moraine environment with embedded sand lenses, with hitherto unseen ground-truth verification. Indeed, the investigated area was above the water table, which allowed for digging out the entire area after the investigation for an unprecedented description of the lens interconnectivity. The TDIP data were acquired with a full-waveform acquisition at high sampling rate, signal-processed by harmonic denoising, background removal, and de-spiking, and subsequently the full-waveform data were stacked in log-increasing tapered gates (with 7 gates per decade). The resulting TDIP decays, with usable time-gates as early as two milliseconds, were inverted in terms of a re-parameterization of the Cole-Cole model. The inverted models of the field data show a remarkable delineation of the sand lenses/layers at the site, with structure in both the resistivity and the IP parameters matching the results from the ground-truthing. The synthetic examples show that in models both below and above the groundwater table, sand-lenses with thicknesses comparable to the vertical electrode spacing can be well resolved. This suggests that full-decay cross-borehole TDIP is an ideal tool for high-resolution sand-lens imaging.
- Programme Area 2: Water Resources