A travel time based hydraulic tomographic approach



[1] Hydraulic tomography is a method to identify the three-dimensional spatial distribution of hydraulic properties in the subsurface. We propose a tomographic approach providing the inversion of travel times of hydraulic or pneumatic tests conducted in a tomographic array. The inversion is based on the relation between the peak time of a recorded transient pressure curve and the diffusivity of the investigated system. The development of a transformation factor enables the inversion of further travel times besides the peak time of a transient curve. As the early travel times of the curve are mainly related to preferential flow features while the inversion based on late travel times are reflecting an integral behavior, it can be assumed that the different inversion results reflect the properties of the overall system. By comparing the different reconstructions the system interpretation therefore becomes more comprehensive and reliable. Furthermore, the similarity of the proposed hydraulic tomographic approach to seismic travel time tomography allows us to apply the inversion algorithms which are used for seismic tomography. We therefore apply the method of staggered grids, which enables to refine the grid resulting in a higher nominal resolution, to data from a set of interference tests arranged in a tomographic array. The tests were conducted in an unsaturated fractured sandstone cylinder in the laboratory. The three-dimensional reconstructions of the diffusivity distribution are found to be highly reliable and robust. In particular, the mapped fracture of the sandstone cylinder coincides with our reconstructed diffusivity distribution.