Mapping an aquitard breach using shear-wave seismic reflection


In multi-layered hydrostratigraphic systems, aquitard breaches caused by faulting or paleo-erosion can allow substantial quantities of water of differing quality to be exchanged between aquifers. Seismic reflection technology was used to map the extent and orientation of an aquitard breach connecting a shallow alluvial aquifer to the deeper semi-confined Memphis aquifer in southwestern Tennessee, USA. Geophysical well logs indicate the presence of the aquitard at borehole locations that define the beginning and end points on two seismic survey lines, which intersect at a borehole where the aquitard is absent. A SE-NW-oriented paleochannel, 350 m wide and approximately 35-40 m deep, is interpreted from the seismic reflection surveys. The paleochannel cuts through the aquitard and into the upper part of the Memphis aquifer, thus creating a hydraulic connection between the shallow unconfined and deeper, semi-confined aquifers. The results indicate the potential of the shear-wave seismic reflection methods to resolve shallow breaches through fine-grained aquitards given availability of sufficient well control. © Springer-Verlag 2008.

Publication Title

Hydrogeology Journal