Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 175, Issue 10, pp 3525–3538 | Cite as

Utilizing 2D Electrical Resistivity Tomography and Very Low Frequency Electromagnetics to Investigate the Hydrogeology of Natural Cold Springs Near Virginia City, Southwest Montana

  • Mohamed A. KhalilEmail author
  • Andrew Bobst
  • Jesse Mosolf


Virginia City, Montana, is located in the northern Rocky Mountains of the United States. Two natural springs supply the city’s water; however, the source of that water is poorly understood. The springs are located on the east side of the city, on the edge of an area affected by landslides. 2D electric resistivity tomography (ERT) and very low frequency electromagnetics (VLF-EM) were used to explore the springs and landslides. Two intersecting 2D resistivity profiles were measured at each spring, and two VLF profiles were measured in a landslide zone. The inverted 2D resistivity profiles at the springs reveal high resistivity basalt flows juxtaposed with low resistivity volcanic ash. The VLF profiles within the landslide show a series of fracture zones in the basalt, which are interpreted to be a series of landslide scarps. Results show a strong correlation between the inferred scarps and local topography. This study provides valuable geological information to help understand the source of water to the springs. The contact between the fractured basalt and the ash provides a sharp contrast in permeability, which causes water to flow along the contact and discharge at outcrop. The fracture zones along the scarps in the landslide deposits provide conduits of high secondary permeability to transmit water to the springs. The fracture zones near the scarps may also provide targets for municipal supply wells.


2D resistivity VLF springs Montana 


  1. Burger, H. R., Sheehan, A. F., & Jones, C. H. (2006). Introduction to Applied Geophysics. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  2. Cordua, W. S. (1973). Precambrian geology of the southern Tobacco Root Mountains, Madison County. Montana: Bloomington, Ind., Indiana University, Ph.D. Thesis, p. 147.Google Scholar
  3. Dahlin, T., Bernstone, C., & Loke, M. H. (2002). A 3D resistivity investigation of a contaminated site at Lernacken, Sweden. Geophysics, 67, 1692–1700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dey, A., & Morrison, H. F. (1979). Resistivity modelling for arbitrary shaped two-dimensional structures. Geophysical Prospecting, 27, 1020–1036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Forquet, N., & French, H. K. (2012). Application of 2D surface ERT to on-site wastewater treatment survey. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 80, 144–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fraser, D. C. (1969). Contouring of VLF-EM data. Geophysics, 34, 958–967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Geotomo Software (2010). RES2DINV ver. 3.59 rapid 2-D resistivity and IP inversion using the least-squares method. Penang, Malaysia.Google Scholar
  8. James, J. L. (1990). Precambrian geology and bedded iron deposits of the southwestern Ruby Range, Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1495, p. 39Google Scholar
  9. Karous, M., & Hjelt, S. E. (1977). Determination of apparent current density from VLF measurements. Contribution N. 89. Finland: Department of Geophysics, University of Oulu.Google Scholar
  10. Karous, M., & Hjelt, S. E. (1983). Linear filtering of VLF dip-angle measurements. Geophysical Prospecting, 31, 782–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kellog, K. S., & Williams, V. S. (2006). Geologic Map of Ennis 30’ x 60’ Quadrangle Madison and Gallatin Counties, Montana, and Park County, Wyoming. Butte: Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology.Google Scholar
  12. Khalil, et al. (2010). Comparative study between filtering and inversion of VLF-EM profile data. Arabian Journal of Geosciences. Scholar
  13. Loke, M. H. & Barker, R. D. (1995). Least-squares deconvolution of apparent resistivity pseudocetions. Geophysics, 60(6), 1682–1690. Scholar
  14. Loke, M. H., & Barker, R. D. (1996a). Rapid least-squares inversion of apparent resistivity pseudosections by a quasi-Newton method. Geophysical Prospecting, 44, 131–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Loke, M. H., & Barker, R. D. (1996b). Practical techniques for 3D resistivity surveys and data inversion. Geophysical Prospecting, 44, 499–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Madsen, J.A., Brown, L., McKenna, T., Snyder, S., Krantz, D., Manheim, F., Haeni, F.-P., White, E., Ullman, W. (2001). Geophysical characterization of fresh and saline water distribution in a coastal estuarine setting.In Proc. Symp. of the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP), 4–7 March, Denver, CO.Google Scholar
  17. Manheim, F. T., Krantz, D. E., Snyder, D. S., Bratton, J. F., White, E. A., & Madsen, J. A. (2001). Streaming resistivity surveys and core drilling define groundwater discharge into coastal bays of the Delmarva Peninsula Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, 33, A42.Google Scholar
  18. Marvin, R. F., Wier, K. L., Mehnert, H. H., & Merritt, V. M. (1974). K-Ar ages of selected Tertiary igneous rocks in southwestern Montana: Isochron West, n. 10, p. 17–20.Google Scholar
  19. McNeill, J. D., Labson. V. F. (1991). Geological mapping using VLF radio fields (Chap. 7). In M.N. Nabighian (Ed.), Electromagnetic methods in applied geophysics–Applications (Vol. 2, Part B, pp. 521–640). Society of Exploration Geophysicists, ISBN 1-560800-22-4 (v.2).Google Scholar
  20. Moeck, I., Dussel, M., Troger, U., & Schandelmeier, H. (2003). Fracture networks in Jurassic carbonate of the Algarve basin (south Portugal): Implications for aquifer behavior related to the recent stress field. In J. Krasny & J. Sharp (Eds.), Groundwater in Fractured rocks. Milton Park: Taylor and Fracis. (ISBN 978-0-415-41442-5).Google Scholar
  21. Monteiro Santos, F. A., Mateus, A., Figueiras, J., & Gonçalves, M. A. (2006). Mapping groundwater contamination around a landfill facility using the VLF-EM method – A case study. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 60, 115–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ogilvy, R. D., & Lee, A. C. (1991). Interpretation of VLF-EM in phase data using current density pseudosections. Geophysical Prospecting, 39, 567–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pirttijarvi, M. (2004). KHFFILTL Karous-Hjelt and Fraser filtering of VLF Measurements. Retrieved from Accessed 13 May 2017.
  24. Qarqori, K. H., Rouai, M., Moreau, F., Saracco, G., Dauteuil, O., Hermitte, D., et al. (2012). Geoelectrical Tomography Investigating and Modeling of Fractures Network around Bittit Spring (Middle Atlas, Morocco). International Journal of Geophysics. (Article ID 489634).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rizzo, E., Colella, A., Lapenna, V., & Piscitelli, S. (2004). High-resolution images of the fault-controlled high agri valley basin (Southern Italy) with deep and shallow electrical resistivity tomographies”. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 29(4–9), 321–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ruppel, E. T., & Liu, Y. (2004). The Gold Mines of the Virginia City Mining District, Madison County (p. 133). Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin: Montana.Google Scholar
  27. Sasaki, Y. (1989). Two-dimensional joint inversion of magnetotelluric and dipole–dipole resistivity data. Geophysics, 54, 254–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sasaki, Y. (1992). Resolution of resistivity tomography inferred from numerical simulation. Geophysical Prospecting, 40, 453–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. TerraPlus (2013). RES2DINV 2D resistivity and IP inversion software. TerraPlus—geophysical equipment supplier.
  30. Tonkov, N., & Loke, M. H. (2006). A resistivity survey of a burial mound in the ‘Valley of the Thracian Kings’. Archaeological Prospection, 13, 129–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Vuke, S.M., (2013). Landslide map of the Big Sky area, Gallatin and Madison counties, Montana: Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Open-File Report 632, 1 sheet, scale 1:24,000.Google Scholar
  32. Western Regional Climate Center (2017). Accessed 6 Sep 2017.
  33. Wooden, J. L., Vitaliano, C. J., Koehler, S. W., & Ragland, P. C. (1978). The late Precambrian mafic dikes of the southern Tobacco Root Mountains, Montana. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 15, 467–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wynn, J. C., & Grosz, A. E. (2000). Induced-polarization—a tool for mapping titanium-bearing placers, hidden metallic objects, urban waste on and beneath the seafloor. Journal of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics, 5, 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geophysical EngineeringMontana Tech of the University of MontanaButteUSA
  2. 2.Montana Bureau of Mines and GeologyButteUSA

Personalised recommendations