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Finding water, the scientific way

The Magnetic Resonance Sounding method (MRS) has been used in the past years with success in various geological and geographical contexts for groundwater surveys.

This method has indeed the ability of directly detecting the presence of water through the excitation of the hydrogen protons of water molecules. The frequency to which the H protons react depends on the magnitude of the Earth magnetic field, while the intensity of the excitation determines the depth of investigation. The amplitude of the magnetic field generated in return by the water of a layer is proportional to the porosity of this layer, and the time constant of the relaxation curve is linked to the mean pore size of the material, that is to say tightly related to its permeability.

A loop laid on the surface of the ground is used for both transmitting the excitation pulse and measuring the response of the H protons. The linear relation between the measured signal and the layer porosity permits to interpret the 1D sounding as soon as the readings have been collected in the field.

The main applications of this method concern the determination of the water level and of the total quantity of water available down to 100 to 150 m depths.

Magnetic Resonance Soundings can also help to select the best place for drilling, to predict a yield using a calibration, and to determine the geometry of an aquifer layer for hydrogeological modelling

A set of field examples acquired in various countries (Africa, Asia, Europe) points out both the advantages and the limitations of this method and suggests the place it should take among other geophysical methods in the methodology of groundwater investigations.

Summary by J Bernard & A Legchenko

For detailed information by the authors, click HERE

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