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Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5219

Prepared in cooperation with the North Platte Natural Resources District, the South Platte Natural Resources District, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust

Airborne Electromagnetic Mapping of the Base of Aquifer in Areas of Western Nebraska

By Jared D. Abraham, James C. Cannia, Paul A. Bedrosian, Michaela R. Johnson, Lyndsay B. Ball, and Steven S. Sibray

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (13.6 MB)Abstract

Airborne geophysical surveys of selected areas of the North and South Platte River valleys of Nebraska, including Lodgepole Creek valley, collected data to map aquifers and bedrock topography and thus improve the understanding of groundwater–surface-water relationships to be used in water-management decisions. Frequency-domain helicopter electromagnetic surveys, using a unique survey flight-line design, collected resistivity data that can be related to lithologic information for refinement of groundwater model inputs. To make the geophysical data useful to multidimensional groundwater models, numerical inversion converted measured data into a depth-dependent subsurface resistivity model. The inverted resistivity model, along with sensitivity analyses and test-hole information, is used to identify hydrogeologic features such as bedrock highs and paleochannels, to improve estimates of groundwater storage. The two- and three-dimensional interpretations provide the groundwater modeler with a high-resolution hydrogeologic framework and a quantitative estimate of framework uncertainty.

The new hydrogeologic frameworks improve understanding of the flow-path orientation by refining the location of paleochannels and associated base of aquifer highs. These interpretations provide resource managers high-resolution hydrogeologic frameworks and quantitative estimates of framework uncertainty. The improved base of aquifer configuration represents the hydrogeology at a level of detail not achievable with previously available data.

First posted June 11, 2012

  • Appendix 2
    Contains an ASCII-formated, comma-separated file.
  • Appendix 3
    Contains: geospatial database. Refer to the Readme file for more information.

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

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Suggested citation:

Abraham, J.D., Cannia, J.C., Bedrosian, P.A., Johnson, M.R., Ball, L.B., and Sibray, S.S., 2012, Airborne electromagnetic mapping of the base of aquifer in areas of western Nebraska: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5219, 38 p.




Previous Work

Study Methods and Approach

New Base of Aquifer Contours

Summary and Implications of Study Findings


References Cited

Appendix 1. Results of Time-domain Electromagnetic Soundings, Nebraska

Appendix 2. Interpretation-Picks Databases Explanation

Appendix 3. Contour Files

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