in Water (April 2020)
by Lara Blazevic, Ludovic Bodet, Sylvain Pasquet, Niklas Linde, Damien Jougnot, Laurent Longuevergne
The vadose zone is the main host of surface and subsurface water exchange and has important implications for ecosystems functioning, climate sciences, geotechnical engineering, and water availability issues. Geophysics provides a means for investigating the subsurface in a non-invasive way and at larger spatial scales than conventional hydrological sensors. Time-lapse hydrogeophysical applications are especially useful for monitoring flow and water content dynamics. Largely dominated by electrical and electromagnetic methods, such applications increasingly rely on seismic methods as a complementary approach to describe the structure and behavior of the vadose zone. To further explore the applicability of active seismics to retrieve quantitative information about dynamic processes in near-surface time-lapse settings, we designed a controlled water infiltration experiment at the Ploemeur Hydrological Observatory (France) during which successive periods of infiltration were followed by surface-based seismic and electrical resistivity acquisitions. Water content was monitored throughout the experiment by means of sensors at different depths to relate the derived seismic and electrical properties to water saturation changes. We observe comparable trends in the electrical and seismic responses during the experiment, highlighting the utility of the seismic method to monitor hydrological processes and unsaturated flow. Moreover, petrophysical relationships seem promising in providing quantitative results.
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