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Ground-penetrating radar as a tool to detect rock heterogeneities (channels, cemented layers and fractures) in the Luxembourg Sandstone Formation (Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg)

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Abstract

A combined study of radar profiles and thin section analysis supported by modelling of synthetic radar traces reveals that ground-penetrating radar (GPR) reflections generated in diagenetically altered sandstones cannot always be interpreted unequivocally. This is illustrated in the Luxembourg Sandstone Formation, which has been altered diagenetically by selective carbonate cementation and fracturing. Cemented lenses and concretions developed along the bedding planes, especially at places with high primary carbonate content. Cementation resulted in the alternation of cemented carbonate-rich sandy layers (thickness 30–50 cm and variable length) and uncemented carbonate-poor sandstone layers. The ability of GPR to detect the geometry of these lenses and vertical fractures with centimetre apertures has been tested at several antenna frequencies (100, 200, 250 and 500 MHz). Relative dielectric permittivity calculations were carried out to assess variations of this electric property within the cemented and uncemented layers as a function of porosity, calcite and water content in the pores. Two-dimensional full waveform modelling was also carried out to study the effect of conductivity in the sandstones and the effect of interlayer clay seams. At the penetration depth of the radar (7 m with 250 MHz), cemented lenses and concretions could only be detected with GPR when the porosity contrast was sufficiently high, which is not always the case. This conclusion is supported by the modelling. The data also proved the ability of radar to detect large open vertical fractures along which sandstones are weathered. The study has implications for investigations which will use GPR to detect three-dimensional distribution of diagenetic pore filling precipitates as well as secondary porosity development along fractures.

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