Borehole geophysics in environmental applications

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 86, No. 966, 1993

C.J. Mwenifumbo, Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

Reservation of ground-water quality is a major environmental concern. The disposal of hazardous material from urban waste dumps, milling wastes in tailings ponds, and industrial wastes in injection wells may contaminate potential sources of potable ground-water. The containment or migration of contaminants in the subsurface depends on bedrock characteristics and type of overlying sediments. Fractured bedrock and permeable sediments that may provide pathways for the transport of potentially harmful contaminants should be avoided when selecting a disposal site. The role of borehole geophysics in hazardous waste-site investigations is reviewed in three categories: (1) site selection; (2) determination of the extent of contamination at existing sites; and (3) long-term monitoring of migration of contaminants. In the first category, borehole geophysical techniques developed for lithology and fracture identification, and for porosity determination, provide some of the necessary information for understanding the subsurface hydrogeol-ogy. Lithological information can be obtained from gamma-ray, electrical resistivity, induction, magnetic susceptibility, and sometimes induced polarization logs; fracture detection and characterization can be accomplished with the use of caliper, density, resistivity, temperature, and acoustic televiewer logs. Estimates of porosity are derived primarily from neutron-neutron, resistivity, density, and sonic logs. Borehole geophysical techniques used in water-quality determinations include self-potential, fluid resistivity, Eh (re-dox potentials) and pH measurements, and these can be used to map the extent of contamination at an existing waste site. Cross-borehole and borehole-to-surface electrical methods can also be used in this application. Long-term monitoring of contaminant migration in boreholes can be accomplished with techniques thai respond to changes in electrical conductivity, temperature and fluid chemistry caused by the presence of contaminants.
Mots Clés: Environmental geology, Geophysics, Borehole geophysics.