December 11, 2009
Journal Article

Three-dimensional electrical resistivity model of a nuclear waste disposal site


A three-dimensional (3D) modeling study was completed on a very large electrical resistivity survey conducted at a nuclear waste site in eastern Washington. The acquisition included 47 pole-pole two dimensional (2D) resistivity profiles collected along parallel and orthogonal lines over an area of 850 m×570 m. The data were geo-referenced and inverted using EarthImager3D (EI3D). EI3D runs on a Microsoft 32-bit operating system (e.g. WIN-2K, XP) with a maximum usable memory of 2 GB. The memory limits the size of the domain for the inversion model to 200 m×200 m, based on the survey electrode density. Therefore, a series of increasing overlapping models were run to evaluate the effectiveness of dividing the survey area into smaller subdomains. The results of the smaller subdomains were compared to the inversion results of a single domain over a larger area using an upgraded form of EI3D that incorporates multi-processing capabilities and 32 GB of RAM memory. The contours from the smaller subdomains showed discontinuity at the boundaries between the adjacent models, which do not match the hydrogeologic expectations given the nature of disposal at the site. At several boundaries, the contours of the low resistivity areas close, leaving the appearance of disconnected plumes or open contours at boundaries are not met with a continuance of the low resistivity plume into the adjacent subdomain. The model results of the single large domain show a continuous monolithic plume within the central and western portion of the site, directly beneath the elongated trenches. It is recommended that where possible, the domain not be subdivided, but instead include as much of the domain as possible given the memory of available computing resources.

Revised: April 14, 2011 | Published: December 11, 2009


Rucker D.F., M.T. Levitt, and W.J. Greenwood. 2009. Three-dimensional electrical resistivity model of a nuclear waste disposal site. Journal of Applied Geophysics 69, no. 3-4:150-164. PNNL-SA-70283. doi:10.1016/j.jappgeo.2009.09.001