Fields of applications
At GIM we apply our imaging and monitoring methods to many pressing and environmentally relevant geoscientific challenges such as:
- Geothermal reservoir characterization
- Repository safety
- Permafrost characterization
- CO2 storage monitoring
- Groundwater characterization
- Mining and engineering applications
Quantitative imaging of water, ice and air in permafrost systems through petrophysical joint inversion of seismic refraction and electrical resistivity data
Geophysical Journal International, doi:10.1093/gji/ggz402RWTH Publications PDFNote: This publication resulted from Florian's time at the University of Bonn, i.e. was prepared before GIM was founded.
Quantitative estimation of pore fractions filled with liquid water, ice and air is crucial for a process-based understanding of permafrost and its hazard potential upon climate-induced degradation. Geophysical methods offer opportunities to image distributions of permafrost constituents in a non-invasive manner. We present a method to jointly estimate the volumetric fractions of liquid water, ice, air and the rock matrix from seismic refraction and electrical resistivity data. Existing approaches rely on conventional inversions of both data sets and a suitable a priori estimate of the porosity distribution to transform velocity and resistivity models into estimates for the four-phase system, often leading to non-physical results. Based on two synthetic experiments and a field data set from an Alpine permafrost site (Schilthorn, Bernese Alps and Switzerland), it is demonstrated that the developed petrophysical joint inversion provides physically plausible solutions, even in the absence of prior porosity estimates. An assessment of the model covariance matrix for the coupled inverse problem reveals remaining petrophysical ambiguities, in particular between ice and rock matrix. Incorporation of petrophysical a priori information is demonstrated by penalizing ice occurrence within the first two meters of the subsurface where the measured borehole temperatures are positive. Joint inversion of the field data set reveals a shallow air-rich layer with high porosity on top of a lower-porosity subsurface with laterally varying ice and liquid water contents. Non-physical values (e.g. negative saturations) do not occur and estimated ice saturations of 050 per cent as well as liquid water saturations of 1575 per cent are in agreement with the relatively warm borehole temperatures between −0.5 and 3 ° C. The presented method helps to improve quantification of water, ice and air from geophysical observations.
Wagner, F. M. and Mollaret, C. and Günther, T. and Kemna, A. and Hauck, C. (2019): Quantitative imaging of water, ice and air in permafrost systems through petrophysical joint inversion of seismic refraction and electrical resistivity data. Geophysical Journal International. https://doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggz402
Fully coupled inversion on a multi-physical reservoir model Part II: The Ketzin CO2 storage reservoir
International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, doi:10.1016/j.ijggc.2018.04.009RWTH Publications PDFNote: This publication resulted from Florian's time at GFZ Potsdam, i.e. was prepared before GIM was founded.
Reliable monitoring of CO2 storage reservoirs requires a combination of different observation methods. However, history matching is typically limited to CO2 pressure data alone. This paper presents a multi-physical inversion of hydraulic pressure, CO2 pressure, CO2 arrival time and geoelectrical crosshole observations of the Ketzin pilot site for CO2 storage, Germany. Multi-physical inversion has rarely been reported for CO2 storage reservoirs. In contrast to previous studies, there is no need for pre-inversion of geophysical datasets as these are now directly included in a fully coupled manner. The deteriorating impact of structural noise is effectively mitigated by preconditioning of the observation data. A double regularisation scheme provides stability for insensitive parameters and reduces the number of required model runs during inversion. The model shows fast and stable convergence and the results provide a good fit to the multi-physical observation dataset. It has certain predictive power as the known migration direction of the CO2 plume is captured. These results clarify two long discussed issues of the Ketzin CO2 storage reservoir: (1) The pre-existing hypothesis of an existing hydraulic barrier became unsubstantial as the data series suggesting weak hydraulic communication are identified as erroneous. (2) Salt precipitation around the injection well doubles the injection overpressure compared to salt free conditions, which is equivalent to a well skin of 10. The presented framework allows to integrate various types of observations into a single multi-physical model leading to an increased confidence in the spatial permeability distribution and, in perspective, to improved predictive assessments of CO2 storage reservoirs.
Wagner, F. M. and Wiese, B. U. (2018): Fully coupled inversion on a multi-physical reservoir model Part II: The Ketzin CO2 storage reservoir. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijggc.2018.04.009
Groundwater Throughflow and Seawater Intrusion in High Quality Coastal Aquifers
Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/s41598-020-66516-6RWTH Publications PDF
High quality coastal aquifer systems provide vast quantities of potable groundwater for millions of people worldwide. Managing this setting has economic and environmental consequences. Specific knowledge of the dynamic relationship between fresh terrestrial groundwater discharging to the ocean and seawater intrusion is necessary. We present multi- disciplinary research that assesses the relationships between groundwater throughflow and seawater intrusion. This combines numerical simulation, geophysics, and analysis of more than 30 years of data from a seawater intrusion monitoring site. The monitoring wells are set in a shallow karstic aquifer system located along the southwest coast of Western Australia, where hundreds of gigalitres of fresh groundwater flow into the ocean annually. There is clear evidence for seawater intrusion along this coastal margin. We demonstrate how hydraulic anisotropy will impact on the landward extent of seawater for a given groundwater throughflow. Our examples show how the distance between the ocean and the seawater interface toe can shrink by over 100% after increasing the rotation angle of hydraulic conductivity anisotropy when compared to a homogeneous aquifer. We observe extreme variability in the properties of the shallow aquifer from ground penetrating radar, hand samples, and hydraulic parameters estimated from field measurements. This motived us to complete numerical experiments with sets of spatially correlated random hydraulic conductivity fields, representative of karstic aquifers. The hydraulic conductivity proximal to the zone of submarine groundwater discharge is shown to be significant in determining the overall geometry and landward extent of the seawater interface. Electrical resistivity imaging (ERI) data was acquired and assessed for its ability to recover the seawater interface. Imaging outcomes from field ERI data are compared with simulated ERI outcomes derived from transport modelling with a range of hydraulic conductivity distributions. This process allows for interpretation of the approximate geometry of the seawater interface, however recovery of an accurate resistivity distribution across the wedge and mixing zone remains challenging. We reveal extremes in groundwater velocity, particularly where fresh terrestrial groundwater discharges to the ocean, and across the seawater recirculation cell. An overarching conclusion is that conventional seawater intrusion monitoring wells may not be suitable to constrain numerical simulation of the seawater intrusion. Based on these lessons, we present future options for groundwater monitoring that are specifically designed to quantify the distribution of; (i) high vertical and horizontal pressure gradients, (ii) sharp variations in subsurface flow velocity, (iii) extremes in hydraulic properties, and (iv) rapid changes in groundwater chemistry. These extremes in parameter distribution are common in karstic aquifer systems at the transition from land to ocean. Our research provides new insights into the behaviour of groundwater in dynamic, densely populated, and ecologically sensitive coastal environments found worldwide.
Costall, A. R. and Harris, B. D. and Teo, B. and Schaa, R. and Wagner, F. M. and Pigois, J. P. (2020): Groundwater Throughflow and Seawater Intrusion in High Quality Coastal Aquifers. Scientific Reports. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-66516-6
Imaging of plant current pathways for non-invasive root Phenotyping using a newly developed electrical current source density approach
Plant and Soil, doi:10.1007/s11104-020-04529-wRWTH Publications PDF
The flow of electric current in the root-soil system relates to the pathways of water and solutes, its characterization provides information on the root architecture and functioning. We developed a current source density approach with the goal of non-invasively image the current pathways in the root-soil system. A current flow is applied from the plant stem to the soil, the proposed geoelectrical approach images the resulting distribution and intensity of the electric current in the root-soil system. The numerical inversion procedure underlying the approach was tested in numerical simulations and laboratory experiments with artificial metallic roots. We validated the method using rhizotron laboratory experiments on maize and cotton plants. Results from numerical and laboratory tests showed that our inversion approach was capable of imaging root-like distributions of the current source. In maize and cotton, roots acted as leaky conductors, resulting in successful imaging of the root crowns and negligible contribution of distal roots to the current flow. In contrast, the electrical insulating behavior of the cotton stems in dry soil supports the hypothesis that suberin layers can affect the mobility of ions and water. The proposed approach with rhizotrons studies provides the first direct and concurrent characterization of the root-soil current pathways and their relationship with root functioning and architecture. This approach fills a major gap toward non-destructive imaging of roots in their natural soil environment.
Peruzzo, L. and Chou, C. and Wu, Y. and Schmutz, M. and Mary, B. and Wagner, F. M. and Petrov, P. and Newman, G. and Blancaflor, E. B. and Liu, X. and Ma, X. and Hubbard, S. (2020): Imaging of plant current pathways for non-invasive root Phenotyping using a newly developed electrical current source density approach. Plant and Soil. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-020-04529-w