Rapid Scanning Surface NMR for Efficient Land and Airborne Hydrogeologic Mapping

Period of Performance: 04/11/2016 - 04/10/2018


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

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


This proposal addresses the challenge of non-invasively measuring subsurface hydrogeologic properties that control the transport of contaminants and availability of groundwater resources, and efficiently mapping these properties over wide areas of the shallow subsurface (upper ~50m). General statement of how this problem is being addressed: We will develop rapid scanning nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) instrumentation and methods that can be used to efficiently map subsurface hydrogeologic properties using land or airborne deployment platforms. Surface NMR has been proven as a powerful geophysical technique for quantitatively measuring porosity and permeability, but to date the technology has been cumbersome with low signal-to-noise (SNR) and slow measurement speeds that limit the ability to efficiently survey large areas. We will transform surface NMR into a rapid mapping technology through novel advancements in hardware, acquisition methods, and processing algorithms that will yield order of magnitude improvements in measurement speed for wide area hydrogeologic characterization. Phase I Tasks: The Phase 1 research will establish the feasibility of obtaining high quality surface NMR data in vastly reduced measurement times with mobile deployment platforms. We will first establish the feasibility of novel acquisition and processing innovations to increase the available SNR with reduced measurement durations. We will further develop and demonstrate hardware improvements to enhance system mobility and surveying efficiency. Finally, we will directly demonstrate the feasibility of rapid surface NMR field measurements to map hydrogeologic properties using land-towed and airborne platforms. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Completion of this technology in Phase II and beyond will deliver rapid scanning surface NMR as a commercial product for sale, rental, and services in the booming market of geophysical mapping instrumentation sales and services. This technology will be of tremendous value to any company, government, or public agency engaged in contaminated site remediation, groundwater resource evaluation and development, or compliance with environmental standards. In particular reducing survey times and increasing the reliability of hydrogeologic mapping, will reduce site characterization costs, allow improved decision making, and will ultimately improve project outcomes and profitability. Ultimately, the technology will benefit worldwide human and ecosystem health, by enabling effect protection and management of groundwater resources.