Fracture Flow Channel Imaging Using Cross-Polarized GPR Signals

Friday, 19 December 2014: 11:50 AM
Georgios P Tsoflias1, Christopher Perll2, Matthew Baker1 and Matthew Becker3, (1)University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, United States, (2)Chesapeake Energy, Oklahoma City, OK, United States, (3)California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, CA, United States
Fractures control the flow of fluids in rocks with important implications for groundwater resources, contaminant transport, geothermal resources, sequestration of carbon dioxide, and the development of unconventional hydrocarbon resources. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) can be used to image fractured rock and monitor the flow of fluids in the subsurface. Conventional GPR imaging uses single-polarization, co-polarized signals. Changes in reflected signal amplitude result from changes in fracture aperture and changes in fluid electrical properties introduced by tracers or contaminants. Recent research has also shown changes in radar reflected signal phase resulting from changes in fluid electrical conductivity. However, the radar response is dependent on the polarization of EM waves. This study investigates the use of cross-polarized GPR signals for imaging flow channeling at a discrete horizontal fracture. Numerical modeling demonstrated that cross-polarized GPR data are able to image fracture channels when the axis of the channel is oriented obliquely to the EM wavefield orientation. Summation of the cross-polarized and co-polarized components results in an accurate representation of the total scattered energy from the channel. Multipolarization, time-lapse 3D GPR field data were used investigate GPR imaging of flow channeling in a discrete subhorizontal fracture. The GPR surveys were conducted during background fresh fracture water conditions and during six varying orientation dipole flow saline tracer tests. The cross-polarized data revealed flow channeling which is in agreement with the co-polarized GPR data and with independent hydraulic tests. In addition, the cross-polarized components showed changes in flow channeling as a result of changing dipole flow orientation and position. This study demonstrates that cross-polarized GPR signals can be used to enhance imaging of flow in fractured rock.