The application of ground penetrating radar attenuation tomography in a vadose zone infiltration experiment

Ping Yu Chang, David Alumbaugh, Jim Brainard, Laila Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Cross-borehole ground penetrating radar (XBGPR) is used in monitoring a long-term vadose zone infiltration experiment at a test site in Socorro, NM in order to examine contaminant transport in the vadose zone. XBGPR attenuation tomography is conducted in order to test the ability of using images of electromagnetic attenuation for hydrogeologic investigations. The results of four pre-infiltration attenuation inversions shows standard deviations below 0.1 Np/m, and demonstrate the consistency of the XBGPR tomography technique for making time-lapse observations. Correlation to the core records indicates that XBGPR attenuation tomograms provide high-resolution images of clay distribution in the vadose zone. Water infiltration at the ground surface was initiated in February 1999 at a constant rate of 2.7 cm/day, and continued at this rate throughout the data collection experiment. Time-lapse attenuation tomograms show that attenuation increases by approximately 0.3 Np/m during the water infiltration, and indicate a snowplow effect may be occurring where salts are dissolved by the water and concentrated at the front of the plume. Seasonal temperature changes may also cause changes in electromagnetic attenuation images, and masking the evidence of water infiltration. Thus caution must be taken when using time-lapse attenuation images to interpret the movement of a water plume during a long-term experiment as temperature changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-87
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Attenuation
  • Ground penetrating radar
  • Tomography
  • Vadose zone


Dive into the research topics of 'The application of ground penetrating radar attenuation tomography in a vadose zone infiltration experiment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this