Surface NMR Instrumentation and Analysis Methods for Characterizing Vadose Zone Hydrology

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Vista Clara Inc.
12201 Cyrus Way Suite 104
Mukilteo, WA 98275
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


The DoE is responsible for the investigation and remediation of large-scale subsurface contamination at several existing and former facilities. Understanding the hydrogeology of the vadose zone is crucial to understanding transport and fate of underground contaminants. This project will develop practical field-based measurement and analysis techniques for determining vadose zone transport properties from multi-coil surface NMR measurements. Phase I will (1) demonstrate the theoretical and practical basis for using surface NMR geophysics to detect and characterize vadose zone water, and (2) translate NMR signal properties of vadose zone water into hydraulic properties and/or transport models at the site scale. Phase II will entail full-scale development of vadose-zone surface NMR instrumentation and analysis methods, coupled with extensive laboratory and field testing at DOE facilities. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The surface NMR instrumentation and analysis technique should enable high-resolution, non-invasive measurement of gravitational, capillary, and clay-bound water content in the unsaturated zone. These measurement capabilities would enable more accurate prediction of contaminant transport and aquifer recharge processes. In addition to the DOE application, the technology should find use in assessing the feasibility and efficacy of aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) projects.