Airborne and Ground-Based Geophysical Screening of Potential Brine Infiltration Sites, Runnels County, Texas

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Salinization of soil, surface water, and groundwater is a chronic environmental and agricultural problem in many parts of Texas. In this study of a 91 km^2 area near Ballinger in Runnels County, Texas, we integrated results from high-resolution airborne and ground-based geophysical surveys, water and soil sampling, and chemical analyses to locate near-surface concentrations of saline water and determine their origin. Possible salinity sources are upward movement of brine along natural conduits (faults, fractures, joints, and permeable stratigraphic units), downward migration from surface brine pits, leaking oil and gas wells, and evaporative concentration of shallow groundwater as a result of agricultural practices. A prime goal of the study was to determine the effectiveness of the method in locating leaking wells and distinguishing them from other salinity sources. This project represents a coordinated and cooperative effort between the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) and its airborne geophysical subcontractor Dighem I-Power, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), and the Colorado River Municipal Water District (CRMWD).


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