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Improved Aquifer Characterization through Shear Wave Reflection Profiling: Seth S. Haines
Project Title: Improved Aquifer Characterization Through Shear Wave Reflection Profiling
Mendenhall Fellow: Seth S. Haines, (303) 236-5709,
Duty Station: Denver, CO
Start Date: March 21, 2005
Education: Ph.D., Geophysics, Stanford University, 2005
Research Advisors: Karl Ellefsen, (303) 236-7032,; V. J. S. Grauch, (303) 236-1393,; John Lane, (860) 487-7402, ext.13,; Carole Johnson, (860) 487-7402, ext. 17,
  Seth S. Haines

Project Description: Ground water is one of this nation's most vital natural resources, but is limited in both quantity and quality. In order to address both of these limitations, we must better understand our groundwater resources and therefore must improve our ability to determine necessary information about the aquifers of interest. While well-drilling can provide detailed information about a small area, geophysical methods can often be less expensive and can provide information about a broader region. Seismic shear (S) wave reflection imaging is an under-utilized method that has the potential to provide detailed subsurface images unavailable with other methods. One important advantage of shear waves is that they are not strongly affected by the water content of the materials they propagate through. Thus shear wave methods promise to provide better images of aquifer heterogeneity below the water table, an area of interest that commonly-used high frequency compressional (P) waves have difficulty reaching.

This Mendenhall research project is focused on developing shear wave reflection techniques such that the method can be used reliably, and with low cost, to produce useful images of aquifer heterogeneity. A better understanding of the variables that affect data quality will be developed through testing data acquisition techniques, such that in the future we will be able to collect quality data with a minimum of wasted effort. Shear wave data are often contaminated by other seismic phases, and it is important to identify and remove this noise as part of data processing. Improved images will be achieved by developing data processing algorithms to separate the signal of interest from background noise. The project will include collection of data at a variety of sites to improve our understanding of the capabilities of shear wave methods so that we are better able to use these methods to their fullest potential. These experiments will help us to better interpret collected data and also will provide new information about the study areas.

The goal of this project is to improve seismic shear wave reflection methods through a series of methodical experiments at different sites testing various data acquisition approaches, and through the development of necessary data processing techniques. It is anticipated that results will be of use to hydrogeologists in on-going and future aquifer surveys, and that they will be of use in other types of geophysical surveys as well.

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Last modified: 16:08:28 Thu 13 Dec 2012