A comparative evaluation of vertical fractures using different azimuthal electrical resistivity survey arrays
S.S. Moreira, L.A.P. Bacellar and P.R.A. Aranha
Journal name: Near Surface Geophysics
Issue: Vol 17, No 4, August 2019 pp. 345 - 357
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The identification of geological discontinuities such as fractures and faults is fun-damental to geotechnical and hydrogeological characterization of rock masses. It is difficult to characterize these discontinuities, even by means of drill cores. Electrical resistivity has been historically employed as an alternative tool for the characterization of discontinuities, and new equipment for data acquisition and modern interpreta-tion techniques have increased this possibility. However, when the characterization of vertical discontinuities is to be carried out in small areas, such as urban zones or for engineering works, traditional surveying may be impracticable, because it requires larger areas for proper acquisition. In these situations, azimuthal electrical resistivity surveying can be a good option, thanks to faster data acquisition and the possibility of reaching greater depths of investigation. There are several types of azimuthal ar-rays, but comparative analyses of their efficiency are still scarce. The objective of this study is to compare the applicability of several types of azimuthal resistivity surveys to identify vertical discontinuities in rock masses. The study was carried out in the laboratory using a scale model (tank), where boundary conditions could be well-defined. We tried to replicate the natural conditions of a karstic area in Brazil, known to have hydrogeological and geotechnical problems associated with subvertical dis-continuities. The simulations involved a limestone rock mass crosscut by a set of discontinuities with varied apertures. The selected arrays (square, equatorial dipole–dipole, Wenner and Schlumberger) encompassed varied inter-electrode spacings and three different thicknesses of a saturated isotropic overburden, so as to represent field conditions. The azimuthal resistivity surveys, especially the Wenner array, proved to be promising in order to detect vertical discontinuities. The non-collinear arrays are preferable when it comes to discerning the depth of investigation (square) and detect-ing electric anisotropy (equatorial dipole–dipole), despite small azimuthal distortions that were observed in relation to the strike of the discontinuities.