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Groundwater resources assessment using integrated geophysical techniques

in the southwestern region of Peninsular Malaysia

Article  in  Arabian Journal of Geosciences · November 2013

DOI: 10.1007/s12517-012-0700-9


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Mohamed S. E. Juanah Sharharin Ibrahim

Ministry Of Water Resources Universiti Putra Malaysia


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Groundwater resources assessment using
integrated geophysical techniques in the
southwestern region of Peninsular Malaysia

Mohamed S. E. Juanah, Shaharin

Ibrahim, Wan Nor Azmin Sulaiman &
Puziah Abdul Latif

Arabian Journal of Geosciences

ISSN 1866-7511

Arab J Geosci
DOI 10.1007/s12517-012-0700-9

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Author's personal copy
Arab J Geosci
DOI 10.1007/s12517-012-0700-9


Groundwater resources assessment using integrated

geophysical techniques in the southwestern region
of Peninsular Malaysia
Mohamed S. E. Juanah & Shaharin Ibrahim &
Wan Nor Azmin Sulaiman & Puziah Abdul Latif

Received: 1 June 2012 / Accepted: 23 September 2012

# Saudi Society for Geosciences 2012

Abstract Combined geophysical techniques such as Keywords Groundwater resources . Electrical resistivity .
multi-electrode resistivity, induced polarization, and Induced polarization . Porosity distribution
borehole geophysical techniques were carried out on
volcano-sedimentary rocks in the north of Gemas as
part of the groundwater resource’s investigations. The Introduction
result identifies four resistivity units: the tuffaceous
mudstone, tuffaceous sandstone, the tuff bed, and the With Malaysia increasingly becoming an industrialized na-
shale layer. Two types of aquifer systems in terms of tion, the need for quality water to meet its domestic and
storage were identified within the area: one within a industrial requirements is becoming a major challenge, since
fracture system (tuff), which is the leaky area through most of the surface waters are experiencing an increase in
which vertical flow of groundwater occurs, and an in- pollution and/or contamination due to industrialization and
tergranular property of the sandy material of the aquifer agricultural activities. This has resulted in an increase in
which includes sandstone and tuffaceous sandstone. The groundwater exploitation as it is often safe from pollution.
result also reveals that the aquifer occupies a surface The study of groundwater resources in the study area and
area of about 3,250,555 m 2 with a mean depth of its surrounding has not been done in detail, and it is among
43.71 m and a net volume of 9.798×107 m3. From the the driest areas in Malaysia, recording an average rainfall of
approximate volume of the porous zone (28 %) and the less than 2,000 mm/year and has a history of drought
total aquifer volume, a usable capacity of (274.339± (MINT and JMG 2006). Most of the demand for water in
30.177)×107 m3 of water in the study area can be de- this area is a result of agricultural activities, mainly paddy
duced. This study provides useful information that can plantations. There is also vast increase in demand of water
be used to develop a much broader understanding of the supply both during the normal and dry seasons because the
nature of groundwater potential in the area and their ability to use surface water resources is very minimal.
relationship with the local geology. Therefore, the need for quality groundwater to be explored
and to determine the groundwater flow for a database of its
management is vital in assessing the availability of water for
M. S. E. Juanah (*) : S. Ibrahim : W. N. A. Sulaiman : P. A. Latif drinking, industrial, and agricultural purposes (Wattanasen
Faculty of Environmental Studies, Department
of Environmental Science, Universiti Putra Malaysia,
and Elming 2008).
Serdang, Malaysia Geophysical techniques have been experiencing consid-
e-mail: msejuana@yahoo.co.uk erable progress in recent years, and their combined applica-
S. Ibrahim tion, together with geological control, is an approach that is
e-mail: shaharin@env.upm.edu.my gaining widespread acceptance in groundwater exploration.
W. N. A. Sulaiman Hence, the need to employ geophysical techniques is vital in
e-mail: wannor@env.upm.edu.my groundwater resource’s mapping as the movement and oc-
P. A. Latif currence of groundwater are highly localized and unpredict-
e-mail: puziah@env.upm.edu.my able, and it has been proven to be the most successful
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techniques. Several integrated geophysical techniques have (2D) multi-electrode resistivity imaging (Ewusi et al.
been used for a number of geological and hydrogeological 2009), etc., has resulted in the widening of its applications.
purposes in recent times. Wattanasen and Elming (2008) ap- The search for groundwater in the study area is a relevant
plied direct and indirect methods of groundwater investigation applied research issue that requires study. It is an alternative that
in southern Sweden using magnetic resonance sounding and should be extensively explored and protected so that it can be
vertical electrical sounding; Turesson (2006) carried out fully utilized when the region is facing a crisis or critical situa-
ground-penetrating radar and resistivity independently to eval- tion of water stress. Hence, this study aims to develop a much
uate their capability to assess water content and porosity for broader understanding of the nature of groundwater potential in
saturated zone in a sandy section; El Kashouty et al. (2011) the study area and its relations with the local geology and can
used hydrogeophysical techniques to investigate groundwater also be used to assess the potential of groundwater for the
potential in El Bawiti, Northern Bahariya Oasis, Western present and future based on geophysical information.
Desert Egypt; Marescot et al. (2008) use induced polarization
(IP) and resistivity survey to distinguished between low per- The study area
meable clay/graphite and permeable water-bearing zone in
slope instability studies in Swiss Alps; De Domenico et al. The study area is in the north of Gemas, Negri Sembilan,
(2006) applied IP and resistivity measurement at archaeological located between Kampung Londah and Kampung Ulu
site of Tindary, Italy, and they observed an imperfect agreement Ladang (Fig. 1a) with Utm coordinates 292445.3 N,
of the models. 509656.3 E, and 289613.2 N, 511568.6E covering an area
Hence, a careful appliance or integration of techniques is of about 5,419,661 m2. Both Kg Londah and Kg Ulu
most important to become successful technologically, as Ladang are 6–8 km respectively from Gemas which is about
well as cost-effectively for any groundwater exploration. It 165 km from Kuala Lumpur, the capital city. Gemas is a
is an undoubted fact that groundwater cannot be detected major transit point for trains moving from the west and east
directly by any one geophysical method without appropriate coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
knowledge of interpretation and a broader understanding of The study area is relatively flat with elevation ranging
the subsurface hydrogeological condition. Khalil et al. between 40 and 70 m above mean sea level. The natural
(2012), Van Dam (2010), Soupios et al. (2010), Sinha et vegetation within the study area was once an aesthetic rain
al. (2009), Lesmes and Friedman (2005), Yaramanci et al. forest which has been destroyed by man as a result of
(2002), and Hubbard and Rubin (2000) emphasize the use of agricultural activities. It is mainly rural, and the inhabitants
two or more complementary geophysical methods to en- are farmers who are involved in paddy plantations and
hance data interpretation, and according to them, with many perennial crops such as rubber and oil palm plantations. It
assemblages of geophysical data available, excellent results is drained in the northwest by Sungai Muar, which forms a
will be produced with significantly better interpretations continuous boundary of water around the project area to-
than with a single method. De Domenico et al. (2006), on wards which a myriad of drainage system flows and in the
the other hand, also state that an integrated approach of south–southwest is drained by Sungai Gemenche.
geophysical techniques is likely to exceed the cost of any The climate of the study area is tropical with relative
single method survey; the benefit is so high, such that the humidity of 95 %, and the temperature ranges from 20 °C to
cost-to-benefit ratio of the whole operation will be drasti- 30 °C on an average throughout the year. It is characterized by
cally lowered, and this will make the financial effort well the northeast and southwesterly monsoons. The northeast
rewarded. monsoon blows from October to March and forms the wet
Conventional geophysical methods such as seismic, mag- season that is responsible for the heavy rainfalls while the
netics, electrical, and electromagnetic methods have often southwest monsoon occurs between May and September,
been used to map the geometry of aquifers (Wattanasen and which is the period of the dry season. The study area is among
Elming 2008), particularly for groundwater investigations, the driest areas in Malaysia, recording an average rainfall of
geological mapping, contaminant mapping, etc. These less than 2,000 mm/year, which is less than the mean average
methods have been used to estimate location, transmissivity, rainfall of 4,000 mm/year for Malaysia.
specific capacity, and other aquifer parameters, despite the
ambiguity of the interpreted results and also due to limita- Geology of the study area
tion in each method and the site dependence. However, with
the improvements in geophysical instruments over the years, Understanding the geology of the area is an important aspect
the development of better methods, such as time domain in the petrophysical interpretation since different rock forma-
electromagnetic (Khalil et al. 2012), transient electromag- tions exist within the area, and each of these formations
netic system (Al-Garni and El-Kaliouby 2011), magnetic generally has different petrophysical properties which will
resonance survey (Perttu et al. 2011), two-dimensional influence the hydraulic behavior of the studied aquifer system.
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Fig. 1 Location map and

general geology of the study
area showing positions of the
electrical resistivity profile
lines, boreholes, and
observation wells

Generally, the geology of the study area (Fig. 1) is undergone weathering, turning into clay, silty clay, or
based on the old sedimentary rocks with age between silt. However, analysis of aerial photographs showed
Middle Triassic to the Late Triassic of the Gemas that most of these areas represent lineament faults or
Formation. The Gemas Formation is the lateral equiva- fractures or cracks that are directed nearly north–south
lent of the Samatan Formation and is characterized by a (MINT and JMG 2006).
rapidly alternating sequence of carbonaceous shale, Based on structural and stratigraphic data analysis by
sandstone, pyroclastic rocks or volcanic rocks, and silt- Abdullah (2009), the formation is interpreted to either overlie
stone, with few lenses of chert and crystalline lime- conformably on or to pass laterally into the Gua Musang
stone. The shale and siltstone, when fresh and well Formation and is in turn overlain by strata of the younger
bedded, are typically black. Where tuff is present, the Tembeling Group which contains clasts of tuff, sandstone, and
associated shale and siltstone are tuffaceous. mudstone, thus indicating that part of the Samantan succes-
The Mesozoic strata to the east of Samantan sion was uplifted and eroding during deposition of the
Formation rest unconformably on the Middle Permian Tembeling sediments.
limestone, shale, and sandstone. The lower part of the
Mesozoic succession contains tuffaceous rocks, and to Hydrogeology
the south, the Semantan Formation is overlain by
Jurassic–Cretaceous sediments of the Ma’Okil and The sources of groundwater in the area are totally dependent
Paloh Formations. The Ma’Okil Formation is para- on secondary tectonic structures (secondary porosity) such as
conformable on the Samantan Formation based on their fractures and fault that formed the bedrock aquifer. Most of the
structural conformity. The strata of the Samantan areas in Gemas show lineament faults or fractures that are
Formation forms series of NNW–SSE trending open directed towards the north–south direction (MINT and JMG
synclines and anticlines, and beds generally dip at 30– 2006). This is in agreement with the strata of the Samantan
60°, though steeper dips may also occur (Hutchison and Formation series of NNW–SSE. This NNW–SSW direction
Denis 2009). of faults is consistent with the flow of the River (Sungai
The base and top of the Samantan Formation are Muar), and it can be seen as well in the quarry close to the
not exposed, and most of the rock outcrop have borehole at Kampong Ulu Ladang.
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Materials and methods The process involved positioning electrodes with equal
spacing along the profile. A multi-core cable with equal
Field survey method distant “takeout” for connecting the electrodes was placed
along the profile, and the jumper was used to connect the
Electrical resistivity technique is a well-established tech- electrodes to the takeout. Data acquisition began when the
nique for both 2D and three-dimensional (3D) subsurface cables were connected to the switching box, and the elec-
electrical imaging. The measurements are normally carried trode contacts were checked to make sure the electrodes
out using computer-controlled system with a large number make good contact (best in quality) (Soupios et al. 2007)
of electrodes laid out along straight lines with constant with the ground in order to portray the actual resistance of
electrode spacing (Metwaly et al. 2010; Kemna et al. 2002). the ground. The measurements were controlled by the
In the present work, eleven 2D multi-electrode resistivity microprocessor-driven resistivity meter connected to a lap-
survey lines (as shown in Table 1 and Fig. 1) were carried top (Kirsch and Yaramanci 2009).
out employing 40–80 electrodes connected to the
microprocessor-driven resistivity meter functional with the Induced polarization
Wenner configuration. The Wenner configuration was used
because it has the strongest signal strength and is good in The induced polarization technique is based on the same
resolving vertical changes, i.e., horizontal structures (Loke principles as the electrical resistivity methods and was car-
2011). The resistivity data from the profile were inverted ried out immediately after the electrical resistivity survey
using the RES2DINV to obtain the true 2D resistivity im- using the same setup and electrode arrangements. The main
age. The ABEM Terrameter SAS 1000/4000, which difference is that an alternating current in the form of a
employs the static Lund automatic resistivity imaging sys- square wave is injected into the ground instead of DC
tems suitable for high-resolution 2D resistivity surveys and current, and the transient decay of the applied voltage is
provides detailed information both laterally and vertically recorded when the transmitter is switched off. Thus, by
along the profile to investigate complex geological struc- integrating the area under the voltage decay curve, the
tures, was used (Kirsch and Yaramanci 2009). The geophys- chargeability of the geological formation could be evaluated
ical measurements were designed in such a way that they (Dahlin et al. 2002).
were as close as possible to the existing boreholes, in order
to use the latter for calibration purposes. Borehole geophysics

Borehole logging was carried out in an uncased borehole

Table 1 Summary of geophysical survey using the Mount Sopris portable matrix v.8 logger instru-
ment that consisted of 2PGA-1000 Gamma probe and
Survey line Date System used Survey 2PFA-1000 poly-fluid resistivity and temperature probe.
surveyed characteristics
The borehole measurement is made by lowering the probe
Lines KGL 001 October ABEM Wenner array into the borehole with an average speed of 3 m/min and
2010 SAS4000 α010.0 m electrically transmitting data in the form of digital signals to
e040 the surface, and these data are then recorded as a function of
d0120 m depth or distance along the borehole. These measurements
Line KUL 002 October ABEM Wenner array
are related to the physicochemical properties of the rock
2010 SAS4000 α010 m
surrounding the boreholes and the properties of the fluid
saturating the pore spaces in the formation.
d0120 m
Laboratory method
Lines KUL 003 February ABEM Wenner array
and KUL 004 2011 SAS4000 α02.0 m
In order to quantitatively assess the full potential of an
aquifer using geophysical techniques, knowledge about the
d024 m
relationship between the petrophysical properties of the rock
Lines KGL 005, April 2011 ABEM Wenner array
KUL 006, KGL 007, SAS4000 formation and hydrogeological characteristics is very im-
α05.0 m
KGL 008, KUL 009, portant. Understanding this relationship will enable us to
KUL 010, KGL 011 determine properties such as porosity, cementation, density,
d028.7 m
particle size distribution, clay content, pore water saturation,
Where α is the electrode spacing, e is the electrode spacing, and d is the the quality of pore water, formation factor, etc., as these
expected depth properties are known to affect geophysical measurements
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(Taheri Tizro et al. 2012; Mele et al. 2012; Niwas et al. clay in the fractures) was detected by the natural gamma ray.
2011; Soupios et al. 2007). These relationships can then be The fracture point on the gamma ray log which coincides
used for the calibration of the electrical resistivity survey with the fluid log is suggestive of the fluid entering (water
and the geophysical logs response of the logging suite. inflows) point between the shale and tuff zone.
According to Batte et al. (2010), for any geophysical tech- From the fluid conductivity and temperature log mea-
nique to be successful, calibration of geophysical data with surement, an abrupt shift at 1.2 and at 32.5 m was observed
hydrogeological and geological ground truth information is at the conductivity and temperature log in Fig. 2a. Also at
important. Furthermore, the use of field measurement to be Fig. 2b, an abrupt shift at 2.4 and 45.5 m was observed at
validated by laboratory measurement according to Giao et the conductivity and temperature logs. These abrupt shifts
al. (2003) increases credibility and effectiveness of the were confirmed from the water level meter as the water
method. level.
As a result of this, a number of laboratory measurements Figure 2a, b shows correlation between the natural gam-
using British Standard Guide, BS 1377–2: 2001 (Cavelieri ma ray, temperature, fluid resistivity logs, and the lithologic
2001), and American Petroleum Institute guidelines units of Kampung Londah and Kampung Ulu Ladang.
(American Petroleum Institute 1998) were carried out on a
suite of near-subsurface soil samples and rock samples to Electrical resistivity and induced polarization image
determine the influence of various factors such as effective
porosity, soil and rock resistivity, and apparent formation Selective 2D inversions of the electrical resistivity and
factor under varying conditions. The resistivities of different chargeability of the 11 profile lines are shown in Figs. 3,
rocks type were determined using the 4284A precision 4, 5, and 6; these figures represent the characteristic features
inductance, conductance, and resistance (LCR) meter with of the geology and hydrogeology of the study area.
an Angilent 16451 B dielectric material test fixture. The images were obtained by the end of five iterations.
Most of the resistivity sections have an root mean square
(RMS) error of less than 8 % with only two having RMS
Results and discussion errors of 11.8 % and 17.2 %, respectively. This high RMS
error is because of high contact resistance of certain electro-
Borehole geophysical log des that causes the current penetration to be impeded. The
overall resistivity range in the images is 10–2,500 ohmm
The geological borehole log information, together with the with most of the multi-electrode resistivity imaging domi-
natural gamma ray, fluid resistivity, temperature log, and nated by high resistivity (>100 ohmm), although several
water level measurements at the two borehole locations images have low resistivity zones (<100 ohmm).
were used in the interpretations of geophysical result. The IP soundings were carried out simultaneously along-
Lithology profile of each of the two boreholes was based side the resistivity in order to be correlated with the electri-
on natural gamma ray and the local borehole geological cal resistivity data for the delineation of the groundwater
cross-section while the hydrogeological conditions under aquifer zone. The interpretation of the IP sounding curves
ambient conditions were determined using fluid resistivity shows large variations in the chargeability values ranging
and temperature logs. Detailed studies of the natural gamma from 0 to 100 ms. The chargeability parameters used in the
and fluid column (temperature and fluid conductivity) have delineation of the aquifer are complex and are based on the
been carried out, and the utilization of these logs (particu- resistivity result.
larly the natural gamma logs) has enabled the correlation of The result of the profile KGL 001 was obtained with
the geophysical logs with the lithostratigraphic units within RMS error of 5.2 % after five iterations. It is located in
the study area. Kampung Londah at about 250 m parallel to the train track.
The geological borehole description was matched with The subsurface resistivity distribution of the profile is
the electrical resistivity image at the borehole location, and shown in Fig. 3a.
from comparison, the resistivity of each individual type of Three distinct resistivity zones along the profile can be
lithology can be inferred. observed. At the first layer, an intermediate resistivity
In the natural gamma correlation carried out in the two (>100 ohmm) can be observed at the top and bottom layers
boreholes, the presence of distinctive marker such as the between 70 to 190 m along the survey line for a depth of
fractures and with the presence of high natural gamma approximately 25 m and from 450 to 630 m for a depth of
anomaly associated with shale can be used in defining the about 10 m, respectively. These areas are likely to be dry
lithostratigraphic position of the beds penetrated by the weathered tuff. Another intermediate resistivity layer
boreholes, as shown below in Fig. 2a, b. Hence, the pres- extends between the positions of 270 m to 530 m for a
ence of shale and fracture (due to the possible presence of depth of approximately 100 m forming a doom shape
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Fig. 2 a, b Shows correlation between the natural gamma ray, temperature, fluid resistivity logs, and the lithologic units of Kampung Londah and
Kampung Ulu Ladang

layering. From borehole investigation, this zone is likely to addition, the low resistivity zone between 280 to 360 m along
be tuff with quartzite. This zone could be the leaky layer as the profile line corresponds to low chargeability (M<1 ms).
it is associated with fractures through which the local The resistivity pseudo-section shows geophysical unit (prob-
groundwater systems are connected (Furi et al. 2011). ably shale) of low resistivity (<100 ohmm) that corresponds to
The second layer has a resistivity between 80 and 90 ohm lower chargeability (M<5 ms) as shown in Fig. 2d.
m and can be observed as a thin layer interbedded with the The potential zones for groundwater resources defined
tuff zone. Results from borehole log shows that this zone is along the survey line are mainly in three locations as indi-
likely to be shale. cated by the circles. Though these layers are continuous,
The third layer is a saturated zone, and from field obser- preference should be given to the positions already selected.
vation, the layer at the position between 640 and 800 m From the record of water level meter, fluid resistivity, and
along the survey line is observed as very saturated weath- temperature logs of the borehole, these areas are likely to be
ered soft clay. This zone may probably be the weathering associated with groundwater.
product of tuff. Another saturated zone from field observa- Additionally, the significant correlation of low resistivity
tion is between 200 and 450 m along the profile line. with low chargeability (Fig. 2a) is indicative of groundwa-
The high chargeability zone (M>10 ms) that corresponds ter. The zones of low resistivity are located at a depth
with the doom shape structure of the intermediate resistivity exceeding 2.5 m; hence, the expected groundwater potential
zone (100–400 ohmm) is probably indicative of tuff while the layer is located at a depth of more than 20–60 m from the
resistivity of the saturated zone between 160 and 350 m along surface and in some cases can reach up to a depth of 80 m.
the survey line with depth exceeding 35 m corresponds to the The profile KGL 002 is located at Kampung Ulu Ladang
tuffaceous sandstone of high chargeability. The low resistivity with a survey line of 800 m. A borehole is located at 610 m
zone between 580 and 660 m for a depth of 60 m corresponds along the survey line. The subsurface resistivity and charge-
to high chargeability zone of possibly tuffaceous sandstone. In ability distribution of the area is shown in Fig. 2c, d with an
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Fig. 3 Showing 2D pseudo-section inverse model and chargeability for KGL 001 and KGL 002
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Fig. 4 Showing 2D pseudo-section inverse model and chargeability for KGL 003 and KGL 004
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Fig. 5 2D pseudo-section inverse model and chargeability for KGL 005 and KGL 006

RMS error of 17.5 % for resistivity and 14.1 % for charge- Two main resistivity zones can be identified from this
ability after five iterations. profile. A high resistivity zone (600–2,500 ohmm) along the
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Fig. 6 2D pseudo-section inverse model and chargeability for KGL 007 and KGL 008

profile from 20 to 590 m can be seen at the top part of the 260 to 360 m for a depth of 40 m is probably highly
image for a varying depth of up to 30 m. Based on infor- fractured tuffaceous sandstone. East of this zone between
mation extracted from geological map, borehole log, and 450 and 520 m along the profile line from the surface is a
field observation; this zone is found to be sandstone. Also dome-shaped structure that extends up to a depth of about
based on borehole information, a high resistivity zone from 50 m. This zone is probably sandstone interbedded with tuff.
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The second zone from 120 to 800 m is an intermediate resistivity distribution with 5.8 % and 3.2 % chargeability
resistivity zone of tuff interbedded with thin shale layers. respectively after five iterations, as shown on Fig. 4c, d.
From the borehole log information, the presence of fractures A thin layering of tuff can be identified across the profile
and high natural gamma signals is observed at this point. from 50 to 148 m for an approximate depth of 2 m. Below
Possible lateral change in facies can be observed in the this zone is a highly fractured resistivity zone (>1,000 ohm
profile from 190 to 520 m for a varying depth of up to m), i.e., zones of high resistivity with a pinch out zone of
120 m, in which tuff interbedded with quartzite (tuffaceous low resistivity in between which indicates that it has rela-
sandstone) can be observed at one end in the east and a tively more fissures that cause the resistivity to be lower
dome-shaped structure of possibly massive sandstone that is than the rest. This zone can be seen from the surface of the
not fractured or consists of more quartzitic content of the profile up to a depth of 9 m from 2 to 34 m and increases in
sediment or material, observed in the west. intensity from tuffaceous sandstone at the bottom to weath-
The potential zone for groundwater resources defined ered sandstone at the top. This zone from chargeability
along the survey line can be seen in four areas. This resis- image is highly saturated with groundwater.
tivity zone corresponds to the borehole log information Potential groundwater resources can be identified at the
based on fluid conductivity, temperature, and the charge- tuffaceous sandstone (98–114 m from the surface up to a
ability values. The zones of low resistivity are located at a vertical depth of 12 m) and at the low resistivity zones
depth exceeding 16 m. Therefore, the expected potential (<100 ohmm) from 32 to 64 m and 94 to 104 m along the
layer is located at a depth of more than 16–40 m from the profile, and these layers correspond to high chargeability
surface and in some cases can reach up to a depth of 120 m. (>10 ms) of tuffaceous sandstone as shown in Fig. 4d.
The profile KGL 003 displays similar features with pro- The profile KGL 005 is located in the oil palm farm in Kg
file KGL 001, both in geometry and in subsurface resistivity Londah. The length of the line is 200 m and an electrode
distribution with an RMS error of 6.7 % and chargeability of spacing of 5 m with an approximate depth of 30 m. The
14.9 % after five iterations as shown in Fig. 4a, b. This area subsurface resistivity distribution with RMS error of 2.5 %
is located about 500 m south of KGL001. and 2.7 % chargeability after five iterations are shown on
Three distinct resistivity zones can be observed in the profile, Fig. 5a and b, respectively.
and the profile length is 160 m. The first layer in the western part A high resistivity zone (>100 ohmm) can be seen running
of the survey line has high resistivity (>300 ohmm) between 18 horizontally across the profile between 7 and 35 m and be-
and 42 m along the profile with an approximate depth of 10 m tween 80 and 170 m for a vertical depth of about 10 m. From
and at a depth greater 20 m. Field observation indicated that this field investigation, this zone is the red tuffaceous mud stone.
zone is weathered sandstone. The second layer has low resistiv- Below this region is an intermediate resistivity zone (100–
ity (80–90 ohmm) and can be seen forming thin layering with 400 ohmm), and this zone is the tuff bed. A saturated zone
an intermediate resistivity zone. This zone is likely to be shale. which is the dominant zone in the image is interbedded with
While the third layer has intermediate resistivity (>100 ohmm) thin layering of shale and extends vertically downwards for an
and extends between 62 and 104 m with an approximate vertical approximate depth of about 20 m. Within this zone, from both
extension of 16 m, forming a dome-shaped structure. This zone the resistivity and chargeability image, is a possible fracture
can also be seen on the east end and extends from 126 to 138 m tuff saturated with groundwater. Two zones of potential
for an approximate depth of 11 m. groundwater resources were identified from the low resistivity
High chargeability zone (M>10 ms) corresponds to the zones, and these areas correlate with low chargeability zones
dome-shaped structure of the intermediate resistivity (100– (<1 ms). The zones of low resistivity are located at a depth
400 ohmm), and this is probably indicative of tuff and exceeding 6 m. Therefore, the expected potential layer is
tuffaceous sandstone while the resistivity of the saturated located at a depth of more than 6–30 m from the surface.
zone between 36 and 128 m along the survey line with depth The profile KGL 006 is located at a road junction in
exceeding 7 m corresponds to the tuffaceous sandstone, Kampung Londah leading to Pasir Besar. The subsurface
some with high chargeability. resistivity distribution with RMS error 3.3 % and 4.8 %
The potential zone for groundwater resources defined chargeability respectively after five iterations are shown in
along the survey lines is in two locations at a depth of more Fig. 5c, d. This profile line is about 1–2 m away from a
than 6–13 m from the surface, though it can reach a depth of stream and runs parallel to it for almost 200 m.
up to 24 m. This is in correlation with the geophysical unit An intermediate resistivity zone (100–300 ohmm) can be
of low resistivity (<100 ohmm) and low chargeability (M< seen between 150 and 190 m along the profile for a vertical
5 ms) of the profile. depth of about 10 m. The saturated zone which is the dominant
Profile KGL 004 is located in a rubber plantation at Kg zone in the image extends vertically for an approximate depth
Ulu Ladang. The line length is 160 at 2 m electrode spacing of up to 30 m. Zones of potential groundwater resources were
and an approximate depth of 24 m. The subsurface electrical identified from the low resistivity zones, and these areas
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correlate with high chargeability zones (M>10 ms) of the

tuffaceous sandstone interbedded with tuff. The zones of low
resistivity are located at a depth exceeding 2 m. Therefore, the
expected potential layer is located at a depth of more than 2–
25 m from the surface and can reach up to depth of 30 m.
The profile KGL 007 runs parallel to KGL 002. The profile
line is 200 m with electrode spacing of 5 m. The subsurface
resistivity distribution with RMS error 3.3 % and chargeability
1.5 % respectively after five iterations are shown on Fig. 6a, b.
Two main resistivity zones can be identified. A high resis-
tivity zone (100–600 ohmm) can be seen at the surface from 5
to 195 m up to a depth of 8 m; this zone is interpreted as the
Fig. 7 Relationship between apparent formation factor and fractional
highly fractured tuffaceous mudstone. An intermediate resistiv- porosity
ity zone (100–500 ohmm), possibly tuff can be observed from a
depth of about 10 up to 30 m along the profile line (10–165 m). layer, possibly tuff, can be observed across the top layer of the
A possible fracture exists in this zone and based on correlation profile line from 0–85 and 110–200 m. Another resistivity zone
with the low chargeability zone (M>1 ms); the material present (400–600 ohmm) from 85 to 110 m extends down to about
in the fracture is possibly clay. Two low-resistivity zones 8 m. This zone is slightly fractured and is likely to be tuffaceous
(<100 ohmm) can also be seen on the profile between 35 and sandstone (Table 2).
75 m from the surface up to a depth of 28 m and between 105
and 135 m from the surface to a depth of 28 m. These low-
resistivity zones (<80 ohmm) are interbedded with thin shale Porosity distribution and quantitative estimation
layer (80–90 ohmm) and correlates with low chargeability as of groundwater resources
shown in Fig. 6a, b. This correlation is indicative of potential
groundwater resources. The zones of low resistivity are located The results obtained from the inversion of the multi-electrode
at a depth exceeding 10 m. Hence, the expected potential layer resistivity, borehole logs, and laboratory techniques are useful
is located at a depth of more than 10–30 m from the surface. in estimating groundwater resources and defining the subsur-
The profile KGL 008 is located on the main road leading face porosity distribution. Understanding the hydrogeological
to Kampung Ulu Ladang with a survey line of 200 m and properties of the formation is very important in determining
electrode spacing of 5 m. The subsurface resistivity and porosity distribution of the aquifer. In order to achieve this, a
chargeability distribution with RMS error 6.8 % and 8.2 % laboratory-established equation (Eq. 2) obtained by fitting a
respectively after five iterations are shown on Fig. 6c, d. curve-fit regression (Fig. 7) of the apparent formation factor
The saturated zone (<100 ohmm) is the dominant zone in (F) and fractional porosity (ϕ) of the soil and rock samples
the image. They are observed from a very shallow depth of which is the common form of the Archie equation, Fα 0a ϕ−m,
>6 m up to a depth of 28 m with a thin shale layering as were used, where α and m are constant and Fα is the apparent
observed from borehole logs in Kg Londah and Kg Ulu formation factor which is given as:
Ladang. These low-resistivity zones are associated with
groundwater potentials and correlate well with the low char- Fa ¼ ð1Þ
geability zones. An intermediate resistivity (100–300 ohmm)

Table 2 Lithology, resistivity, and chargeability range for obtaining potential groundwater in Kg Londah and Kg Ulu Ladang

Lithological unit Nature/characteristics Resistivity range, Chargeability range, Hydrological significance

(Rock type) ohmm ms (potential for obtaining

Tuffaceous mudstone Weathered/fractured/ 900–2,500 25–60 Poor–moderate groundwater

cracks potential
Shale Contact with tuff/ 80–90 1–5 Moderate–good potential
Tuff Fractured/fissure 100–400 5–25 Good groundwater potential
Tuffaceous sandstone (tuff with Fractured/fissure 500–1,200 25–80 Very good groundwater potential
Sandstone Weathered/fractured/ 2000–2500 80–100 Excellent groundwater potential
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Arab J Geosci

Where ρo is the bulk resistivity obtained from the rock ∅ ¼ e m lnðaÞþ m lnð Fa Þ
1 1 1
and soil samples and ρw is the measured fluid resistivity
obtained from the borehole and observation wells. The inferred aquifer thickness data was used to determine
The power regression obtained from the relationship the surface area and volume as occupied by pores in the
between apparent formation factor and fractional porosity subsurface using Surfer 9 software (Golden Software Inc.
of the integrated soil and rock samples after taking account 2010). Surfer is a software package used in transforming
of the clay effect is given by the equation: XYZ data to create contour maps, 3D surface maps
(Fig. 8a), shaded relief maps, base maps, etc. It is also used
Fa ¼ 0:8017f1:805 ð2Þ in the calculations of cross-sections, areas, and volumes. The
bedrock elevation, aquifer thickness, the north of reference
The R2 00.8843 and standard error estimated of 0.207 coordinates, and east of reference coordinate were determined
indicate that 88 % of the total variations in the formation for each of the data points of the electrical resistivity imaging
is explained or accounted for by the power fitted regression line. The “easting’s” of each line was considered the X-axis,
equation, Fα 00.8017ϕ−1.805. the “northings” as the Y-axis and the contour, and/or the
This equation is then applied to the field resistivity data aquifer thickness elevation considered as Z-axis.
to calculate the subsurface porosity distribution of the satu- Hence, the volume of the aquifer was obtained from the
rated formation (Eq. 3) as shown in column 8 of Table 3. aquifer elevation thickness data (Fig. 8b). From the appli-
Consequently, understanding the bulk resistivity of the for- cation of Surfer, the total volume of the aquifer is
mation is very important. The bulk resistivity which is the 9.7978332×107 m3. Mathematically, the usable volume ca-
true resistivity is obtained from the inversion of the apparent pacity or the theoretical storage capacity was calculated
resistivity of the field data using RES2DINV as shown in from Eq. 4, (George et al. 2011).
Figs. 3, 4, 5, and 6. The RES2DINV is electrical resistivity
software used in inverting apparent resistivity of field data V ¼ VT Θ ð4Þ
to obtain the true resistivity and true depth of the resistivity
image. Thus, as a result of the inversion of the field data, the Where V is the theoretical usable volume or maxi-
true resistivity, true depth, and the x-position were saved in mum storage (cubic meters); VT is the total volume of
XYZ format. The calculated true resistivity or bulk resistiv- the aquifer (9. 7978332 × 107 m 3 ) calculated from
ity is then divided by the formation water resistivity which is Surfer; and Θ is the average porosity of the aquifer
obtained from in situ electrical conductivity measurement which is 28 %.
from the boreholes and observation wells along which the However, in order to account for the error in the volume,
survey lines were run to obtain the resistivity formation and based upon Eq. 4, the fractional volume error,
From the information obtained from the subsurface elec- ΔV =V ¼ ΔL=L þ ΔW =W þ ΔD=D þ ΔΘ=Θ ð5Þ
trical resistivity, borehole log data, and the water-bearing
zone, the porosity distributions of the subsurface were de- Where ΔV is the error in volume V; ΔL is the error in
termined from Eq. 3 (Soupios et al. 2007). length L; ΔW is an error in width w; ΔD is the error in depth

Table 3 Showing porosity distribution of the study area

Location Bulk resistivity, Ωm Aquifer resistivity, Ωm Aquifer thickness, m Apparent formation factor (Fα) a m Porosity (∅)

KGL 001 107.74 34.03 60 3.17 0.80 1.81 0.28

KGL 002 431.33 48 50 8.99 0.80 1.81 0.26
KGL 003 124.27 40.11 17 3.10 0.80 1.81 0.33
KGL 004 596.94 39.01 13 15.30 0.80 1.81 0.20
KGL 005 261.57 30.18 15 8.67 0.80 1.81 0.27
KGL 006 245.21 30.18 23 8.12 0.80 1.81 0.28
KGL 007 158.83 35.61 22 4.46 0.80 1.81 0.39
KGL 008 115.80 28.59 24 4.05 0.80 1.81 0.41
KGL 009 379.01 49.54 16 7.65 0.80 1.81 0.29
KGL 010 797.81 39.5 12 20.20 0.80 1.81 0.17
KGL 011 116.85 22.78 20 5.13 0.80 1.81 0.36
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Fig. 8 a Three-dimensional
contour map of the study area
showing surface elevation and
borehole location. b Three-
dimensional map showing the
spatial distribution of the aqui-
fer thickness in the study area

d (0.1 m3); and ΔΘ is the error in porosity (0.01 %). ΔL and borehole logs, electrical resistivity, laboratory method,
Δw are almost negligible. and induced polarization values (Table 1). The tuffa-
Hence, ceous sandstone was differentiated based on the high
resistivity and chargeability values associated with sand-
ΔV =V ¼ 0 þ 0 þ 0:1 þ 0:01
stone and also through the borehole logs while the high
ΔV ¼ V ð0:11Þ ¼ ð274:339  107 Þ  ð0:11Þ
ΔV ¼ 30:177  107 resistivity values associated with tuffaceous mudstone
was based on laboratory analysis and electrical resistiv-
Thus, from the approximate volume of the porous zone ity of the rocks. The resistivity of tuff zone was differ-
which is 28 % of the total aquifer volume, we can conclude entiated based on the borehole information and also
that there exist (274.339±30.177)×107 m3 or (300±30)× because it is the dominant rock type in the area. The
107 m3 of water within the study area. shale layer was differentiated based on borehole log,
electrical resistivity, and induced polarization.
The resistivity layers in Kg Londah and Kg Ulu Ladang
Conclusion can be categorized into four resistivity layer units. The first
layer, tuffaceous mudstone, which is a semi-confined layer,
In quantifying groundwater potential in the area, hydro- has high resistivity values (800–2,500 Ωm) and can be
geological properties of the different rock types such as found at the top. This zone ranges between 0 and 6 m and
tuffaceous mudstone, shale, the fractured tuff and tuffa- in some cases can reach up to a depth of 15 m from the
ceous sandstone, the lithological contacts, and fracturing surface.
of the various lithologies were obtained from the bore- The second resistivity layer, tuffaceous sandstone (tuff
hole geophysical logs, the electrical resistivity, and in- with quartzite), has moderate to high resistivity of 500–
duced polarization. This information was used to 1,200 ohm and is normally found interbedded with the tuff.
determine potential groundwater zones, and the induced From borehole log, this zone is highly fractured and, hence,
polarization technique was used to distinguish between a good groundwater potential zone. Where the sandstone is
clay and groundwater. not interbedded with tuff, it may be weathered and probably
Five main lithologies, tuffaceous mudstone, tuff, tuff massive (not fractured or more quartzitic content of the
with quartzite (tuffaceous sandstone), sandstone, and sediment or material) with resistivity between 2,000 and
shale, were identified based on-field investigation, 2,500 ohm.
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Arab J Geosci

The third resistivity layer, the tuff bed, has resistivity that Acknowledgments The authors sincerely thank Universiti Putra
ranges between 100 and 400 ohm. The thickness of this Malaysia for providing financial assistance through the research uni-
versity grant (RUGS), under project number 05-01-11-11216 RU and
layer can range from 1 to 60 m, though it can reach up to a vote number 9199825. The first Author also wishes to thank the
depth of 100 m; it is the dominant rock type within the area, Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia, for providing him with the
and from the borehole log information, this zone consists of Commonwealth and Fellowship plan scholarship. We thank anony-
fractures and/or fissures. The fourth resistivity layer is the mous reviewers and Dr. Mohamed Khalifa (University Technology
PETRONAS, Malaysia) for their comments, from which the paper
shale layer. This layer has a resistivity in the range 80– has greatly benefited.
90 ohm. It is found forming a thin layering with the tuff
and hence forms major contact with the tuff.
Therefore, based on the borehole log, electrical resis-
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