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Open-File Report 2014–1242

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Characterization of Subsurface Stratigraphy along the Lower American River Floodplain Using Electrical Resistivity, Sacramento, California, 2011

By Bethany L. Burton, Michael H. Powers, and Lyndsay B. Ball

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (19.4 MB)Abstract

In July 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, completed a geophysical survey using electrical resistivity along an approximately 6-mile reach of the lower American River in Sacramento, California, to map near-surface lithological variations. This survey is a part of a manifold and comprehensive study of river-flow dynamics and geologic boundary-property knowledge necessary to estimate scour potential and levee erosion risk. Data were acquired on the left (south or west) bank between river mile 5 and 10.7 as well as a short section on the right bank from river mile 5.4 to 6. Thirteen direct-current resistivity profiles and approximately 8.3 miles of capacitively coupled resisistivity data were acquired along accessible areas of the floodplain between the levee and river bank. Capacitively coupled resistivity was used as a reconnaissance tool, because it allowed for greater spatial coverage of data but with lower resolution and depth of investigation than the DC resistivity method. The study area contains Pleistocene-age alluvial deposits, dominated by gravels, sands, silts, and clays, that vary in both lateral extent and depth. Several generations of lithologic logs were used to help interpret resistivity variations observed in the resistivity models.

First posted December 17, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Director, Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Federal Center, Box 25046, MS 964
Denver, CO 80225–0046

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Suggested citation:

Burton, B.L., Powers, M.H., and Ball, L.B., 2014, Characterization of subsurface stratigraphy along the lower American River floodplain using electrical resistivity, Sacramento, California, 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1242, 62 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)




Previous Work

Description of Study Area

Methods of Investigation

Results of Investigation

Summary and Discussion


References Cited

Appendix 1. Direct-Current Resistivity Pseudosections

Appendix 2. Capacitively Coupled Resistivity Pseudosections

Appendix 3. Digital Data

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