February 25, 2022

Surface 3D Electrical Resistivity Tomography Inversion of 2005 BC Cribs and Trenches Datasets


Hydrogeophysics, Inc. (HGI) conducted an electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) dataset at the BC Cribs and Trenches site, located in the Central Plateau of the Hanford Site. The 20 trenches and 6 cribs received large volumes of liquid inorganic waste in the 1950s, resulting in a large inventory of contaminants in the vadose zone. The objective of the ERT survey was to map plume extents resulting from the legacy discharges. The HGI interpretation of the resistivity data was performed using geometric inversion to interpolate 2D lines into a 3D image. To demonstrate a newly developed geophysical code capability (E4D), the resistivity data were re-processed to fit a full 3D model of the bulk electrical conductivity. This proof-of-concept model inversion was executed in calendar year 2011, as the large dataset was well-suited for the use of high-performance computing. The 3D re-processing of the BC Cribs and Trenches ERT data conducted in 2011 resolved the true bulk electrical conductivity. This means that all of the resistivity data were fit to a single model of the bulk electrical conductivity, with true horizontal and vertical dimensions. This differed from the HGI data interpretation approach that used geometric inversion to process 2D lines independently, which were then interpolated into a 3D image. Both the full 3D re-processing and the 2D interpolation to a 3D image demonstrated a higher electrical conductivity observed immediately beneath the trenches and cribs. The electrical conductivity is strongly correlated with nitrate concentrations, indicating the presence of nitrate and other co-located contaminants.

Published: February 25, 2022


Johnson T.C., J.L. Robinson, and V.L. Freedman. 2022. Surface 3D Electrical Resistivity Tomography Inversion of 2005 BC Cribs and Trenches Datasets Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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