High-contrast layers caused by porosity or clay content changes can have a dominant effect on hydraulic processes within an aquifer. These layers can act as low-velocity waveguides for GPR waves. We used a field example from a hydrological test site in Switzerland to show that full-waveform inversion of crosshole GPR signals could image a subwavelength thickness low-velocity waveguiding layer. We exploited the full information content of the data, whereas ray-based inversion techniques are not able to image such thin waveguide layers because they only exploit the first-arrival times and first-cycle amplitudes. This low-velocity waveguide layer is caused by an increase in porosity and indicates a preferential flow path within the aquifer. The waveguide trapping causes anomalously high amplitudes and elongated wavetrains to be observed for a transmitter within the waveguide and receivers straddling the waveguide depth range. The excellent fit of amplitudes and phase between the measured and modeled data confirms its presence. This new method enables detailed aquifer characterization to accurately predict transport and flow and can be applied to a wide range of geologic, hydrological, and engineering investigations.
- GROUND-PENETRATING RADAR