Open-File Report 2014–1007
Understanding the spatial characteristics of leakage from canals is critical to effectively managing and utilizing water resources for irrigation and hydroelectric purposes. Canal leakage in some parts of Nebraska is the primary source of water for groundwater recharge and helps maintain the base flow of streams. Because surface-water supplies depend on the streamflow of the Platte River and the available water stored in upstream reservoirs, water managers seek to minimize conveyance losses, which can include canal leakage. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Central Platte Natural Resources District and Nebraska Public Power District, used capacitively coupled (CC) and direct-current (DC) resistivity techniques for continuous resistivity profiling to map near-surface lithologies near and underlying the Cozad, Thirty-Mile, Orchard-Alfalfa, Kearney, and Outlet Canals. Approximately 84 kilometers (km) of CC-resistivity data were collected along the five canals.
The CC-resistivity data were compared with results from continuous sediment cores and electrical conductivity logs. Generally, the highest resistivities were recorded at the upstream reaches of the Cozad, Thirty-Mile, and Orchard-Alfalfa canals where flood-plain deposits of silt and clay mantle coarser channel deposits of sand and gravel. The finer grained deposits gradually thicken with increasing distance away from the Platte River. Consequently, for many surveyed reaches the thickness of fine-grained deposits exceeded the 8-meter depth of investigation.
A detailed geophysical investigation along a 5-km reach of the Outlet Canal southwest of North Platte, Nebraska, used CC and DC resistivity to examine the condition of a compacted-core bank structure and characterized other potential controls on areas of focused seepage. CC-resistivity data, collected along the 5-km study reach, were compared with continuous sediment cores and DC-resistivity data collected near a selected seep near Outlet Canal mile post 15.55 along 5 separate profiles. DC-resistivity results were compared to a schematic cross section of the Outlet Canal north embankment that include the original surfaces and modifications to the compacted-core bank structure.
Along the canal road south line, there is a transition from high resistivity at land surface to much lower resistivity near the estimated depth of the northern slope of the original compacted-core bank; however, the surveyed elevation of the water surface in the canal also is at this elevation. Along the canal road north line, there is a transition from high resistivity near land surface to lower resistivity at depth. Although the transition is rapid near the estimated depth of the first-modified bank slope, it also is coincident with the groundwater level measured in piezometer PZ–4. Currently (2013), it is unknown if the indicated changes in resistivity at these elevations was the effect of saturation of the underlying sediments or caused by the compacted-core bank.
First posted February 25, 2014
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Hobza, C.M., Burton, B.L., Lucius, J.E., and Tompkins, R.E., 2014, Capacitively coupled and direct-current resistivity surveys of selected reaches of Cozad, Thirty-Mile, Orchard-Alfalfa, Kearney, and Outlet Canals in Nebraska, 2012–13: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1007, 48 p., https://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20141007.
ISSN 2331-1258 (online)
Methods of Investigation
Capacitively Coupled and Direct-Current Resistivity