GROUND-PENETRATING RADAR AND DIELECTRIC CHARACTERIZATION OF SHALLOW RESERVOIR ANALOGS IN CENTRAL TEXAS CARBONATES
Lake Georgetown Spillway near Georgetown (Williamson County) in Central Texas exposes Albian rudist communities and associated depositional facies of the Edwards Formation, Fredericksburg Group. Capped by younger dolostones of the same group, they form important analogs for highly productive fresh-water aquifers and hydrocarbon reservoirs in carbonate environments. A 2D ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey was conducted using a 400 MHz antenna with the Subsurface Interface Radar (SIR-3000) System by GSSI and tied to GPS data. Data constituting a grid were processed and numerical simulation performed for 3D visualization using the software REFLEX. Dielectric measurements of field-collected rock samples were carried out initially under vacuum dried condition and then under controlled amounts of moisture content (considering 100% saturation of pores of each sample after 2 hours of water treatment). For each sample, penetration depths were calculated for antenna frequencies of 100 and 400 MHz assuming GPR signal penetration in a homogeneous layer. This was followed by porosity-permeability measurements along with petrographic and X-ray diffraction studies. Real (ε1) and imaginary parts (ε2) of the dielectric permittivity (ε), when plotted against moisture content, demonstrated a greater range of ε-values for more permeable samples. The depths of penetration varied inversely with the permeability of the samples. The processed 2D GPR data and 3D simulation revealed mound structures below the spillway floor, each with a diameter of ~15-20m and a thickness of ~5m. Petrographic studies showed the dominance of mouldic porosity in these carbonates while X-ray diffraction results confirmed calcite and dolomite as the dominant mineralogy, although present in varying proportions. Silica peaks were encountered that possibly represented chert replacements seen in the thin-sections. We thus conclude that different carbonate units can be differentiated in the field by the GPR as a result of existing dielectric contrasts arising from a variation of moisture content and permeability. This effort characterizes shallow reservoir geometry and their dielectric heterogeneity in 3D, useful not only in hydrocarbon exploration in shallow realms but also in hydrological applications in carbonate terrains.