Seismic Shear-Wave Characterization of Sand and Gravel Groundwater Aquifers in Northern Illinois

Zonaed Sazal, Ahmed Ismail, Jason Thomason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Groundwater is a nearly exclusive water resource, specifically for the communities which are part of the Chicago metropolitan area. However, water shortage is predicted for many communities in this region, and demand for locating and delineating groundwater is increasing to fulfill the water supply. Shallow sand and gravel aquifers within the glacial deposits of the area specifically are high volume aquifer and less stressed compare to deeper bedrock aquifer. Yet, these aquifers are poorly understood in terms of their extent and lateral variability. This study applied the shear-wave seismic reflection method to delineate the thickness, lateral extent, and internal variability of these aquifers. We acquired horizontally polarized shear-wave (SH-waves) reflection data along five profiles of a total length of 11 km using the land streamer technology in McHenry County in northern Illinois to delineate sand and gravel aquifers. As shear waves propagate through the rock matrix and less sensitive to the presence of water, information from nearby borings and water wells aided the interpretation of the acquired SH-wave seismic profiles. We delineated multiple sand and gravel units of potential aquifers of different thicknesses and lateral extent along with the seismic profiles. The relatively higher vertical and lateral resolution of the shear-waves reflection method and its insensitivity to water saturation or chemistry made it an ideal method to resolve sand and gravel units of potential aquifers within the complex geological environment if aided by water-well information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-193
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geophysics


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