Characterizing the Spiritwood Valley Aquifer using Helicopter Time-Domain Electromagnetics
Investigations of the Spiritwood aquifer in southern Manitoba by the Geological Survey of Canada and other workers, have demonstrated the value of helicopter time domain electromagnetic (TDEM) surveys in aquifer mapping and characterization using the contrasts between Quaternary glacio-lacustrine sand-gravels (high resistivity) that are relatively permeable and clay-tills (low resistivity) that are relatively impermeable, as well as the deeper, much less resistive Cretaceous Pierre Formation Shale basement rocks. This success provided the impetus for the North Dakota State Water Commission to fly a VTEM helicopter EM survey in the Jamestown, ND region in October, 2016.
The VTEM data collected over the Spiritwood-JT block allowed for geological mapping from near surface to depth, in spite of relatively weak resistivity contrasts (<10X). These data were inverted with a layered-earth algorithm to produce resistivity-depth models. These models were able to resolve the location and depths to the top and bottom of the Spiritwood aquifer throughout the central portion of the block providing more detailed pictures of the aquifer’s geometry. In addition to resolving the main aquifer as well as its deeper channels, the VTEM data and models highlighted several smaller, previously undiscovered aquifers that cross-cut/branch-off from the main Spiritwood channel. These are interpreted as probable transverse low-K barriers that were apparent from the existing test drilling and aquifer testing.