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Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5194

Prepared in cooperation with the North Platte Natural Resources District

Capacitively Coupled Resistivity Survey of Selected Irrigation Canals Within the North Platte River Valley, Western Nebraska and Eastern Wyoming, 2004 and 2007–2009

By Bethany L. Burton, Michaela R. Johnson, Joseph Vrabel, Brian H. Imig, Jason D. Payne, and Ryan E. Tompkins


Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (16.14 MB)

Due to water resources of portions of the North Platte River basin being designated as over-appropriated by the State of Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the North Platte Natural Resources District (NPNRD), in cooperation with the DNR, is developing an Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for groundwater and surface water in the NPNRD. As part of the IMP, a three-dimensional numerical finite difference groundwater-flow model is being developed to evaluate the effectiveness of using leakage of water from selected irrigation canal systems to manage groundwater recharge. To determine the relative leakage potential of the upper 8 m of the selected irrigation canals within the North Platte River valley in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, the U.S. Geological Survey performed a land-based capacitively coupled (CC) resistivity survey along nearly 630 km of 13 canals and 2 laterals in 2004 and from 2007 to 2009. These 13 canals were selected from the 27 irrigation canals in the North Platte valley due to their location, size, irrigated area, and relation to the active North Platte valley flood plain and related paleochannels and terrace deposits where most of the saturated thickness in the alluvium exists. The resistivity data were then compared to continuous cores at 62 test holes down to a maximum depth of 8 m. Borehole electrical conductivity (EC) measurements at 36 of those test holes were done to correlate resistivity values with grain sizes in order to determine potential vertical leakage along the canals as recharge to the underlying alluvial aquifer. The data acquired in 2004, as well as the 25 test hole cores from 2004, are presented elsewhere. These data were reprocessed using the same updated processing and inversion algorithms used on the 2007 through 2009 datasets, providing a consistent and complete dataset for all collection periods. Thirty-seven test hole cores and borehole electrical conductivity measurements were acquired based on the 2008 data. This report presents comparisons between the CC resistivity data and results from the 37 test holes and includes all binned and inverted CC resistivity datasets from all four years as well as the EC log data for the 37 test holes acquired in 2008 and 2009. The information gained from these data can help State and local water managers and scientists better understand the characteristics of the shallow subsurface underlying the irrigation canals so that the water resources can be managed more effectively.

First posted September 28, 2009

  • Figure 1 PDF (4.3 MB)
    Map showing location of the capacitively coupled resistivity surveys performed in 2004 and 2007 through 2009 and location of test holes drilled in 2008 and 2009. NRD, Natural Resources District; CC, capacitively coupled.

For additional information contact:

Team Chief Scientist,
USGS Crustal Imaging and Characterization
Box 25046, Mail Stop 964
Denver, CO 80225

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Suggested citation:

Burton, B.L., Johnson, M.R., Vrabel, Joseph, Imig, B.H., Payne, J.D., and Tompkins, R.E., 2009, Capacitively coupled resistivity survey of selected irrigation canals within the North Platte River valley, western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, 2004 and 2007–2009: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5194, 70 p.




Purpose and Scope

Previous Work

Description of Study Area

Geology and Hydrogeology

Methods of Investigation

Results of Investigation

Summary and Discussion


References Cited

Supplemental Data Section

Appendix—Digital Data

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