Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Lawrence Murdoch

Committee Member

Scott DeWolf

Committee Member

Ronald Falta


Pumping tests with sinusoidal variation in pumping rate have been proposed as a method for improving aquifer characterization. These tests can interrogate a larger aquifer volume than slug tests and they can be more sensitive to small variations in drawdown. Current methods of using sinusoidal variations of rate are based on measuring pressure signals from the reservoir or aquifer, which requires access to monitoring wells. An alternative approach has been developed that measures the strain in the vadose zone instead of pressure in the reservoir. An instrument has been developed at Clemson University that can measure small strains using optical fiber sensors, and we propose that it can be used to measure strain during sinusoidal pumping tests.

The objective of this project is to evaluate the feasibility of measuring and interpreting the vertical strain in the vadose zone generated during a sinusoidal rate pumping tests to estimate aquifer and/or overburden properties. Pumping tests were performed at a site with a water table at 9 m and saturated saprolite from 9 to 30m depth. Sinusoidal pumping tests in the saprolite used different pumping amplitudes and periods while pressure was measured at three piezometers and vertical strain was measured in the vadose zone from 1 to 7 m depth. The delay time of the pressure increased linearly with distance, and it increased with the square root of the period, while the amplitude of the pressure decreased with distance and increased with amplitude. Vertical strain in the vadose zone varied with the same period as the pumping rate and the delay times were similar to those for pressures measured at similar radial distances. Delay times for the strain increased with an increasing propagation of the strain field. The hydraulic diffusivity was estimated using delay times for pressure and strain, and the results were compared with the values estimated from a constant-rate pumping test. The hydraulic diffusivity from the constant rate test was 0.039 m2/sec, whereas it was 0.053 (±0.05) m2/sec and 0.035 (±0.03) m2/sec from the pressure data and 0.08 (±0.022) m2/sec and 0.035 (±0.001) m2/sec from the strain data from sinusoidal tests of various periods and amplitudes. There is no statistical difference among these values. This study indicates that strain measurements in the vadose zone can be used to estimate aquifer properties during sinusoidal pumping tests.



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