Seismic-refraction field experiments on Galapagos Islands: A quantitative tool for hydrogeology

M. Adelinet, C. Domínguez, J. Fortin, S. Violette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Due to their complex structure and the difficulty of collecting data, the hydrogeology of basaltic islands remains misunderstood, and the Galapagos islands are not an exception. Geophysics allows the possibility to describe the subsurface of these islands and to quantify the hydrodynamical properties of its ground layers, which can be useful to build robust hydrogeological models. In this paper, we present seismic refraction data acquired on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal, the two main inhabited islands of Galapagos. We investigated sites with several hydrogeological contexts, located at different altitudes and at different distances to the coast. At each site, a 2D P-wave velocity profile is built, highlighting unsaturated and saturated volcanic layers. At the coastal sites, seawater intrusion is identified and basal aquifer is characterized in terms of variations in compressional sound wave velocities, according to saturation state. At highlands sites, the limits between soils and lava flows are identified. On San Cristobal Island, the 2D velocity profile obtained on a mid-slope site (altitude 150 m), indicates the presence of a near surface freshwater aquifer, which is in agreement with previous geophysical studies and the hydrogeological conceptual model developed for this island. The originality of our paper is the use of velocity data to compute field porosity based on poroelasticity theory and the Biot-Gassmann equations. Given that porosity is a key parameter in quantitative hydrogeological models, it is a step forward to a better understanding of shallow fluid flows within a complex structure, such as Galapagos volcanoes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-151
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Acoustic velocities
  • Porosity
  • Seismic-refraction
  • Volcanic rocks
  • Water table


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