A Review of the Principles and Applications of the NMR Technique for Near-Surface Characterization

Abstract

This paper presents a comprehensive review of the recent advances in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) measurements for near-surface characterization using laboratory, borehole, and field technologies. During the last decade, NMR has become increasingly popular in near-surface geophysics due to substantial improvements in instrumentation, data processing, forward modeling, inversion, and measurement techniques. This paper starts with a description of the principal theory and applications of NMR. It presents a basic overview of near-surface NMR theory in terms of its physical background and discusses how NMR relaxation times are related to different relaxation processes occurring in porous media. As a next step, the recent and seminal near-surface NMR developments at each scale are discussed, and the limitations and challenges of the measurement are examined. To represent the growth of applications of near-surface NMR, case studies in a variety of different near-surface environments are reviewed and, as examples, two recent case studies are discussed in detail. Finally, this review demonstrates that there is a need for continued research in near-surface NMR and highlights necessary directions for future research. These recommendations include improving the signal-to-noise ratio, reducing the effective measurement dead time, and improving production rate of surface NMR (SNMR), reducing the minimum echo time of borehole NMR (BNMR) measurements, improving petrophysical NMR models of hydraulic conductivity and vadose zone parameters, and understanding the scale dependency of NMR properties.

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Acknowledgments

This work was carried out as part of the Danish Council of Strategic Research Project titled ‘HyGEM—Integrating geophysics, geology, and hydrology for improved groundwater and environmental management’. The authors would like to thank Lee Slater for his review of an early version of the manuscript, as well as the editor and Rosemary Knight for their fruitful comments and thorough review of the manuscript. Use of product names does not indicate endorsement.

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Correspondence to Ahmad A. Behroozmand.

Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 3.

Table 3 Summary of acronyms

Appendix 2

See Table 4.

Table 4 Definition of main mathematical symbols

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Behroozmand, A.A., Keating, K. & Auken, E. A Review of the Principles and Applications of the NMR Technique for Near-Surface Characterization. Surv Geophys 36, 27–85 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10712-014-9304-0

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Keywords

  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • NMR
  • Near surface