Airborne geophysical assessment of salinization in the Lacy Creek area, Sterling County, Texas

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2002

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In late August and early September 2001, a high-resolution airborne geophysical survey was flown over a 162 km2 area west of Sterling City in Sterling County, Texas. This survey, flown to delineate salinization and estimate its intensity in the shallow, relatively fresh groundwater of the alluvial and Antlers aquifers, acquired magnetic field data to aid the identification of oil and gas wells and electromagnetic (EM) induction data to reveal the electrical conductivity of the ground to depths of 150 m or more. We used water well data from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) database and oil and gas well locations from the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) to assess the accuracy and usefulness of the magnetic field and ground conductivity data. Additionally, we collected ground conductivity data along several transects using a ground-based conductivity meter. We used these data to design the airborne survey, anticipate airborne exploration depths, select the appropriate airborne instruments, compare airborne and ground-based measurements over the same area, and investigate evidence for salinization at several representative locations. We combined aerial photographs, oil and gas well data, water well data, and airborne and ground-based geophysical data in a geographic database (GIS) to facilitate analysis of geophysical anomalies and determine the relationship between water properties and geophysical measurements.

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