Geoelectrical Tomography: Model Studies Related to Nuclear Waste Site Characterization

by Thomas E. Owen, Southwest Research Inst, San Antonio, United States,
Vernon R. Sturdivant, Southwest Research Inst, San Antonio, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering Mechanics


Borehole geoelectrical measurements offer a promising means for detecting and delineating resistivity anomalies in candidate geological formations being considered for underground storage of high-level nuclear waste. Computer model studies were performed to characterize the geoelectrical responses associated with fault and fracture structures in otherwise homogeneous host rock formations. An efficient finite difference computer model was devised to meet the critical demands necessary for accurately modeling such very thin and localized resistivity anomalies. Methods of geoelectrical data analysis were also investigated to identify appropriate approaches for reconstructing spatial images of the detected resistivity anomalies in a manner similar to computed medical x-ray tomography. The resulting image reconstruction algorithm has the advantage of robust performance using ill-conditioned field data and is relatively insensitive to geologic noise. This method of geoelectrical imaging is generally applicable to resistivity survey data acquired either on the surface, in underground mines, or in boreholes.

Subject Headings: Waste sites | Model accuracy | Imaging techniques | Radiography | Radioactive wastes | Underground storage | Computer models | Waste storage

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