Challenges of using electrical resistivity method to locate karst conduits—A field case in the Inner Bluegrass Region, Kentucky
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Conduits serve as major pathways for groundwater flow in karst aquifers. Locating them from the surface, however, is one of the most challenging tasks in karst research. Geophysical methods are often deployed to help locate voids by mapping variations of physical properties of the subsurface. Conduits can cause significant contrasts of some physical properties that can be detected; other subsurface features such as water-bearing fractures often yield similar contrasts, which are difficult to distinguish from the effects of the conduits. This study used electrical resistivity method to search for an unmapped karst conduit that recharges Royal Spring in the Inner Bluegrass karst region, Kentucky, USA. Three types of resistivity techniques (surface 2D survey, quasi-3D survey, and time-lapse survey) were used to map and characterize resistivity anomalies. Some of the major anomalies were selected as drilling targets to verify the existence of the conduits. Drilling near an anomaly identified by an electrical resistivity profile resulted in successful penetration of a major water-filled conduit. The drilling results also suggest that, in this study area, low resistivity anomalies in general are associated with water-bearing features. However, differences in the anomaly signals between the water-filled conduit and other water-bearing features such as water-filled fracture zones were undistinguishable. The electrical resistivity method is useful in conduit detection by providing potential drilling targets. Knowledge of geology and hydrogeology about the site and professional judgment also played important roles in locating the major conduit.
Karst Conduit, Electrical Resistivity, Karst Groundwater, Professional Judgment
Journal of Applied Geophysics, Vol. 75, no. 3 (2011-11).
Zhu, Junfeng; Currens, James C.; and Dinger, James S., "Challenges of using electrical resistivity method to locate karst conduits—A field case in the Inner Bluegrass Region, Kentucky" (2011). KIP Articles. 854.