Geophysical methods can provide a non-invasive method for estimating spatial variability in hydrogeological parameters such as water content, hydraulic conductivity, and matric potential. Proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is unique amongst geophysical methods in that it is directly sensitive to water, via the initial signal magnitude, and thus provides a robust estimate of water content. In addition, the NMR relaxation time is sensitive to pore geometry, allowing it to be used to predict the hydraulic conductivity and to determine water retention curves. While NMR measurements are considered a mature technology in the petroleum industry, the strength of NMR data for hydrogeophysical studies is still being realized. The major ongoing challenge is to generate a functional mapping of the relationship between pore geometry and relaxation time that is appropriate for near surface geologic materials, while accounting for pore chemistry. Here I will present examples from the laboratory and the field that highlight our recent successes in using NMR measurements to estimate several hydrogeological parameters and overcome the limitations of standard petrophysical models.
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