Report Abstract

ELECTROMAGNETIC SURVEYS TO DETECT CLAY-RICH SEDIMENT IN THE RIO GRANDE INNER VALLEY, ALBUQUERQUE AREA, NEW MEXICO

By James R. Bartolino and Joseph M. Sterling

Information on the presence of clay-rich layers in the inner-valley alluvium is essential for quantifying the amount of water transmitted between the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe Group aquifer system. This report describes a study that used electromagnetic surveys to provide this information. In the first phase of the study, electromagnetic soundings were made using time-domain and frequency-domain electro- magnetic methods. On the basis of these initial results, the time- domain method was judged ineffective because of cultural noise in the study area, so subsequent surveys were made using the frequency-domain method. For the second phase of the study, 31 frequency-domain electromagnetic surveys were conducted along the inner valley and parallel to the Rio Grande in the Albuquerque area in the spring and summer of 1997 to determine the presence of hydrologically significant clay-rich layers buried in the inner-valley alluvium. For this report, the 31 survey sections were combined into 10 composite sections for ease of interpretation.

Terrain-conductivity data from the surveys were modeled using interpretation software to produce geoelectric cross sections along the survey lines. This modeling used lithologic logs from two wells installed near the survey lines: the Bosque South and Rio Bravo 5 wells. Because of cultural interference, location of the wells and soundings, complex stratigraphy, and difficulty interpreting lithology, such interpretation was inconclusive. Instead, a decision process based on modeling results was developed using vertical and horizontal dipole 40-meter intercoil spacing terrain-conductivity values. Values larger than or equal to 20 millisiemens per meter were interpreted to contain a hydrologically significant thickness of clay-rich sediment. Thus, clay-rich sediment was interpreted to underlie seven segments of the 10 composited survey lines, totaling at least 2,660 meters of the Rio Grande inner valley. The longest of these clay-rich segments is a 940-meter reach between Bridge and Rio Bravo Boulevards.

Abstract from Water-Resources Investigations Report 00-4003

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