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Water Resources Research

Aquifer heterogeneity characterization with oscillatory pumping: Sensitivity analysis and imaging potential

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Abstract

[1] Periodic pumping tests, in which a fluid is extracted during half a period, then reinjected, have been used historically to estimate effective aquifer properties. In this work, we suggest a modified approach to periodic pumping test analysis in which one uses several periodic pumping signals of different frequencies as stimulation, and responses are analyzed through inverse modeling using a “steady-periodic” model formulation. We refer to this strategy as multifrequency oscillatory hydraulic imaging. Oscillating pumping tests have several advantages that have been noted, including no net water extraction during testing and robust signal measurement through signal processing. Through numerical experiments, we demonstrate additional distinct advantages that multifrequency stimulations have, including: (1) drastically reduced computational cost through use of a steady-periodic numerical model and (2) full utilization of the aquifer heterogeneity information provided by responses at different frequencies. We first perform fully transient numerical modeling for heterogeneous aquifers and show that equivalent results are obtained using a faster steady-periodic heterogeneous numerical model of the wave phasor. The sensitivities of observed signal response to aquifer heterogeneities are derived using an adjoint state-based approach, which shows that different frequency stimulations provide complementary information. Finally, we present an example 2-D application in which sinusoidal signals at multiple frequencies are used as a data source and are inverted to obtain estimates of aquifer heterogeneity. These analyses show the different heterogeneity information that can be obtained from different stimulation frequencies, and that data from several sinusoidal pumping tests can be rapidly inverted using the steady-periodic framework.

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