Date of Thesis

2010

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Geology

First Advisor

Rob Jacob

Keywords

water, moisture gradient, water table, geophysics, seismic, DC resistivity, GPR, Montandon

Abstract

The purpose of this research project is to continue exploring the Montandon Long-Term Hydrologic Research Site(LTHR) by using multiple geophysical methods to obtain more accurate and precise information regarding subsurface hydrologic properties of a local gravel ridge,which are important to both the health of surrounding ecosystems and local agriculture. Through using non-invasive geophysical methods such as seismic refraction, Direct Current resistivity and ground penetrating radar (GPR) instead of invasive methods such as boreholedrilling which displace sediment and may alter water flow, data collection is less likely to bias the data itself. In addition to imaging the gravel ridge subsurface, another important researchpurpose is to observe how both water table elevation and the moisture gradient (moisture content of the unsaturated zone) change over a seasonal time period and directly after storm events. The combination of three types of data collection allows the strengths of each method combine together and provide a relatively strongly supported conclusions compared to previous research. Precipitation and geophysical data suggest that an overall increase in precipitation during the summer months causes a sharp decrease in subsurface resistivity within the unsaturated zone. GPR velocity data indicate significant immediate increase in moisture content within the shallow vadose zone (< 1m), suggesting that rain water was infiltrating into the shallow subsurface. Furthermore, the combination of resistivity and GPR results suggest that the decreased resistivity within the shallow layers is due to increased ion content within groundwater. This is unexpected as rainwater is assumed to have a DC resistivity value of 3.33*105 ohm-m. These results may suggest that ions within the sediment must beincorporated into the infiltrating water.

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