Airborne And Ground Geophysical Surveys To Investigate The Deep Geology And Geohydrology In The Beaufort West Area, Western Karoo, South Africa

A geoscientific research project is underway in the Western Karoo Basin near Beaufort West, South Africa. This area has been earmarked for possible gas exploration. The aim of the project is to improve the understanding of the deeper aquifer systems of the Karoo Basin to better predict potential impacts of geo-resource exploration activities on the deep groundwater systems. This paper reports on the airborne and ground geophysical surveys that were conducted in the study area to gain insight into the deep structural geology and its possible association with aquifer systems. Geophysical methods that were used in the investigations include: 1) the airborne magnetic method was employed to detect and delineate non-outcropping dolerite sills and dykes, as well as to map geological structures of regional extent, and 2) the deep-probing magnetotelluric (MT) technique was used to map conductivity contrasts at large depths that could be associated with prominent geological structures. The results of the geophysical surveys showed that the airborne magnetic method was very effective in mapping intrusive magmatic bodies and other major geological structures. The magnetotelluric results indicated the presence of very resistive layers that appear to be associated with dolerite intrusives. Furthermore, the vertical displacement of a conductive zone indicated the possible presence of large-scale faulting. Based on the results of the airborne geophysical investigations, two investigative boreholes were drilled at selected positions to depths of 516 m and 1 402 m to obtain information on the subsurface geological and geohydrological conditions, and to constrain the interpretation of the airborne geophysical data. Downhole geophysical surveys were conducted on these boreholes to obtain in situ geotechnical and structural information. The results of this project show that the combined use of airborne and deeper probing geophysical methods can greatly contribute to the understanding of the deep geological and geohydrological conditions in the Karoo Basin. The approach can be further utilised for similar investigations of other Karoo satellite basins in South Africa and neighbouring countries

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Western Cape
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