Volume 48 Number 2
  • E-ISSN: 1365-2478


Electromagnetic geophysical methods, such as ground‐penetrating radar (GPR), have proved to be optimal tools for detecting and mapping near‐surface contaminants. GPR has the capability of mapping the location of hydrocarbon pools on the basis of contrasts in the effective permittivity and conductivity of the subsoil. At radar frequencies (50 MHz to 1 GHz), hydrocarbons have a relative permittivity ranging from 2 to 30, compared with a permittivity for water of 80. Moreover, their conductivity ranges from zero to 10 mS/m, against values of 200 mS/m and more for salt water. These differences indicate that water/hydrocarbon interfaces in a porous medium are electromagnetically ‘visible’. In order to quantify the hydrocarbon saturation we developed a model for the electromagnetic properties of a subsoil composed of sand and clay/silt, and partially saturated with air, water and hydrocarbon. A self‐similar theory is used for the sandy component and a transversely isotropic constitutive equation for the shaly component, which is assumed to possess a laminated structure. The model is first verified with experimental data and then used to obtain the properties of soils partially saturated with methanol and aviation gasoline. Finally, a GPR forward‐modelling method computes the radargrams of a typical hydrocarbon spill, illustrating the sensitivity of the technique to the type of pore‐fluid. The model and the simulation algorithm provide an interpretation methodology to distinguish different pore‐fluids and to quantify their degree of saturation.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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