Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

Use of Georphysics to Map Subsurface Features at Levee Seepage Locaitons

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.S. in Engineering Science

First Advisor

Greg Easson

Second Advisor

Charles T. Swann

Third Advisor

Craig J. Hickey

Abstract

The Great Flood of 2011 caused moderate to severe seepage and piping along the Mississippi River levees in Northwest Mississippi. The aim of this thesis was to implement geophysical techniques at two seepage locations in order to give a better understanding of the causes of underseepage and information on how to mitigate the problem. Sites near Rena Lara in Coahoma County and near Francis in Bolivar County were chosen to conduct this survey. Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) and Electromagnetic Induction (EM) surveys were conducted on and adjacent to levees to identify seepage pathways and any dominant geological features at the sites. Results from geophysical surveys revealed that Francis and Rena Laura each had a prominent geomorphologic feature that was attributing to underseepage. Seepage at Francis was the result of a sand filled channel capped by a clay overburden. Permeable materials at the base of the channel served as a conduit for transporting river water beneath the levee. The seepage surfaced as sand boils where the overlying clay overburden was thin or non-existent. Investigations at the Rena Lara site revealed a large, clay-filled swale extending beneath the levee. The clay within the swale has relatively low horizontal permeability, and concentrated the seepage flow towards more permeable zones on the flanks of the swale. This resulted in the formation of sand boils at the base of the levee. Both geomorphic features at Francis and Rena Lara were identified as surface drainages using remote sensing data. With the assistance of borehole and elevation data, geophysics was successfully used to characterize the features at each site. Properties such as permeability and clay content were derived from responses in electrical conductivity and used to build seepage models at each site. These models will hopefully be considered when determining seepage conditions and mitigation techniques at other sites along the levee.

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