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  • Old River Control Complex (ORCC) Low Sill: A Literature Synthesis

    Abstract: The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New Orleans District (MVN), tasked the US Army Engineer and Research Development Center (ERDC) with assessing the condition of a grouted scour hole located at the southeast wall of the Old River Low Sill Structure (ORLSS) at the Old River Control Complex (ORCC) using noninvasive techniques, such as geophysical surveys and physical models. This special report (SR) combines a scientific literature synthesis of previous research with further geologic interpretation as a first step in the overall task assigned by MVN. The results discussed in this SR will be used to inform the interpretation of geophysical surveys, construction of physical models, and input for the slope stability analyses.
  • Legacy Datums and Changes in Benchmark Elevation through Time at the Old River Control Structure, Louisiana

    Abstract: Vertical datums used in the study area at the Old River Control Structure in southern Louisiana have involved Memphis Datum, Mean Gulf Level, Mean Sea Level, Mean Sea Level Datum of 1929, National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929, and the North American Vertical Datum of 1988. The focus of this study was to examine historic benchmarks in the study area to determine the magnitude of elevation changes associated with the different legacy datums that have been used by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Comparison of elevation values across these legacy datums has involved examining historic hydrographic surveys, compiling a list of known benchmarks from these surveys, and comparing their elevation values against publications involving spirit-leveling surveys from the Lower Mississippi Valley and the National Geodetic Survey database for benchmarks. This study describes the history of legacy datums, floodplain geology at the Old River Control Structure, potential subsidence impacts affecting the benchmarks, methods for identification and tracking benchmarks, and the results obtained from this study.
  • Waterborne Geophysical Investigation to Assess Condition of Grouted Foundation: Old River Control Complex – Low Sill Structure, Concordia Parish, Louisiana

    Abstract: The Old River Low Sill Structure (ORLSS) at the Old River Control Complex (ORCC) in Concordia Parish, LA, is a steel pile-founded, gated reinforced-concrete structure that regulates the flow of water into the Atchafalaya River to prevent an avulsion between the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya River. A scour hole that formed on the southeast wall of ORLSS during the Mississippi River flood of 1973 was remediated with riprap placement and varied mixtures of self-leveling, highly pumpable grout. Non-invasive waterborne geophysical surveys were used to evaluate the distribution and condition of the grout within the remediated scour area. Highly conductive areas were identified from the surveys that were interpreted to consist mostly of grout. Resistive responses, likely representing mostly riprap and/or sediment, were encountered near the remediated scour area periphery. A complex mixture of materials in the remediated scour area is interpreted by the more gradual transitions in the geophysical response. Survey measurements immediately beneath ORLSS were impeded by the abundance of steel along with the structure itself. The survey results and interpretation provide a better understanding of the subsurface properties of ORLSS.
  • Geophysical Investigation to Assess Condition of Grouted Scour Hole: Old River Control Complex—Low Sill Concordia Parish, Louisiana

    Abstract: Geophysical surveys, both land-based and water-borne, were conducted at the Old River Control Complex‒Low Sill, Concordia Parish, LA. The purpose of the surveys was to assess the condition of the grout within the scour region resulting from the 1973 flood event, including identification of potential voids within the grout. Information from the ground studies will also be used for calibration of subsequent marine geophysical data and used in stability analysis studies. The water-borne survey consisted of towed low frequency (16-80 MHz) ground penetrating radar (GPR), whereas the land-based surveys used electrical resistivity and seismic refraction. The GPR survey was conducted in the Old River Channel on the upstream side of the Low Sill structure. The high electrical conductivity of the water (~50 mS/m) precluded penetration of the GPR signal; thus, no useful data were obtained. The land-based surveys were performed on both northeast and southeast sides of the Low Sill structure. Both resistivity and seismic surveys identify a layered subsurface stratigraphy that corresponds, in general, with available borehole data and constructed geologic profiles. In addition, an anomalous area on the southeast side was identified that warrants future investigation and monitoring.
  • Spatial Distribution and Thickness of Fine-Grained Sediment along the United States Portion of the Upper Niagara River, New York

    Abstract: Over 220 linear miles of geophysical data, including sidescan sonar and chirp sub-bottom profiles, were collected in 2016 and 2017 by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the upper Niagara River. In addition, 36 sediment grab samples were collected to groundtruth the geophysical data. These data were used to map the spatial distribution of fine-grained sediment, including volume data in certain locations, along the shallow shorelines of the upper Niagara River. Overall, the most extensive deposits were spatially associated with either small tributaries or with man-made structures that modified the natural flow of the system. Extensive beds of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) were also mapped. Although always associated with a fine-grained matrix, the SAV beds were patchy in distribution, which might reflect subtle differences in the grain size of the sediment matrix or could simply be a function of variations in species or growth. The maps generated from this effort can be used to guide sampling plans for future studies of contamination in fine-grained sediment regions.
  • Elevation of underlying basement rock, Ogdensburg Harbor, NY

    Abstract: Over six linear miles of shallow acoustic reflection geophysical data were collected in an 800 ft by 300 ft survey region at Ogdensburg Harbor, Ogdensburg, NY. To better accommodate modern commercial vessels and expand the harbor’s capacity, the current navigable depth of -19 ft Low Water Depth (LWD) needs to be increased to -28 ft LWD, and an accurate map of the nature of the riverbed material (e.g., unconsolidated sediment, partially indurated glacial till, or bedrock) is required to effectively plan for removal. A total of 28 boreholes were previously collected to map the stratigraphy, and the effort revealed significant spatial variability in unit thickness and elevation between adjacent boreholes. To accurately map this variable stratigraphy, chirp sub-bottom profiles were collected throughout the region, with an average line spacing of 13 ft. These sub-bottom data, validated and augmented by the borehole data, resulted in high-resolution spatial maps of stratigraphic elevation and thickness for the study area. The data will allow for more accurate assessment of the type and extent of different dredging efforts required to achieve a future uniform depth of -28 ft LWD for the navigable region.
  • Detecting Clandestine Tunnels by Using Near-Surface Seismic Techniques

    Abstract: Geophysical detection of clandestine tunnels is a complex problem that has been met with limited success. Multiple methods have been applied spanning several decades, but a reliable solution has yet to be found. This report presents shallow seismic data collected at a tunnel test site representative of geologic settings found along the southwestern U.S. border. Results demonstrate the capability of using compressional wave diffraction and surface-wave backscatter techniques to detect a purpose-built subterranean tunnel. Near-surface seismic data were also collected at multiple sites in Afghanistan to detect and locate subsurface anomalies (e.g., data collected over an escape tunnel discovered in 2011 at the Sarposa Prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which allowed more than 480 prisoners to escape, and data from another shallow tunnel recently discovered at an undisclosed location). The final example from Afghanistan is the first time surface-based seismic methods have detected a tunnel whose presence and location were not previously known. Seismic results directly led to the discovery of the tunnel. Interpreted tunnel locations for all examples were less than 2 m of the actual location. Seismic surface wave backscatter and body-wave diffraction methods show promise for efficient data acquisition and processing for locating purposefully hidden tunnels within unconsolidated sediments.
  • PUBLICATION NOTICE: Fine-Grained Sediment within Olcott Harbor, Eighteenmile Creek, NY

    Abstract: Olcott Harbor, located at the mouth of Eighteenmile Creek and Lake Ontario, and a Great Lake Area of Concern, provides a temporary sink for contaminated, fine-grained sediment transported downstream from the Superfund site near Lockport, NY. The volume of fine-grained sediment currently stored in Olcott Harbor and Eighteenmile Creek is unknown, complicating remediation efforts. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District (LRB), has partnered with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to address the mitigation of contaminated sediment accumulating within Eighteenmile Creek. As part of this effort, researchers from the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) collaborated with LRB to delineate fine-grained sediment regions from coarse-grained regions in Olcott Harbor and Eighteenmile Creek via a geophysical survey in July 2017. Where possible, ERDC also estimated the thickness of the fine-grained sediment areas to determine overall fine-sediment volume. Sidescan sonar was used to map the surface transition from the coarser-grained sediment in the outer harbor to the finer-grained sediment in the inner harbor. Chirp sub-bottom profiles successfully imaged the subsurface transition from coarse- to fine-grained sediment in some areas but provided only limited thickness data. This technical note summarizes the field effort, data processing, and final interpretations.
  • PUBLICATION NOTICE: Application of Chirp Acoustic Sub-Bottom Data in Riverine Environments: Identification of Underlying Rocky Hazards at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Thebes, Illinois

    NOTE: A revised version of the report MRG&P Report No. 31 has been published. While the link below remains valid, the PDF attached to the record is new. It is now 47 pages instead of 45 pages after the changes made. Please update your records as needed.
  • PUBLICATION NOTICE: Application of Chirp Acoustic Sub-Bottom Data in Riverine Environments: Identification of Underlying Rocky Hazards at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Thebes, Illinois

    ABSTRACT: Shallow acoustic reflection (chirp) data have been utilized to map the elevation of underlying stratigraphy in a wide range of aqueous environments. Of particular concern in riverine regions is the elevation of near-surface underlying rock that, if exposed during normal migration of sedimentary bedforms, can cause grounding and damage to vessels transiting the region during periods of low water. Given the ephemeral nature of the rock’s exposure, traditional surveying methods are insufficient to map rock when it is covered by a thin veneer of sediment, increasing the potential hazard. Accordingly, the US Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District, (MVS) explored the use of chirp sub-bottom surveys to identify buried rock within the Mississippi River in the vicinity of Cape Girardeau, MO, and Thebes, IL. Hazard maps showing the distribution of buried rock were generated, and the base of the mobile sediment layer was identified where possible. These data will allow MVS to accurately identify potentially hazardous regions during periods of low water. Although the study did not result in the complete mapping of all near-surface geologic hazards, regions that warrant further study are identified, and modifications to the original survey plan are provided to improve the accuracy of future data collection efforts.