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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Utah Geological Association


Geology and Geologic Resources and Issues of Western Utah, 2009
Pages 287-298

Audiomagnetotelluric Investigation of Snake Valley, Eastern Nevada and Western Utah

Darcy K. McPhee, Keith Pari, Frank Baird


Audiomagnetotelluric (AMT) data along four profiles in western Snake Valley and the corresponding two-dimensional (2-D) inverse models reveal subsurface structures that may be significant to ground-water investigations in the area. The AMT method is a valuable tool for estimating the electrical resistivity of the earth over depth ranges from a few meters to less than one kilometer. The method has the potential to identify faults and stratigraphy within basins of eastern Nevada, thereby helping define the hydrogeologic framework of the region.

As support for an exploratory well-drilling and hydraulic-testing program, AMT data were collected using a Geometrics Stratagem EH4 system along four profiles that extend roughly east-west from the southern Snake Range into Snake Valley. The profiles range from 3 to 5 kilometers in length, and station spacing was 200 to 400 meters. Two-dimensional inverse models were computed using the data from the transverse-electric (TE), transverse-magnetic (TM), and combined (TE+TM) mode using a conjugate gradient, finite-difference method. Interpretation of the 2-D AMT models defines several faults, some of which may influence ground-water flow in the basins, as well as identify underlying Paleozoic carbonate and clastic rocks and the thickness of basin-fill sediments. These AMT data and models, coupled with the geologic mapping and other surface geophysical methods, form the basis for identifying potential well sites and defining the subsurface structures and stratigraphy within Snake Valley.

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