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Dr. Brian Waldron and Dr. Beatrice Magnani (Department of Earth Sciences – Center for Earthquake Research and Information (DES-CERI)) led a seismic reflection survey investigation that traversed over a kilometer distance from Moore Road south to the Wolf River in Shelby Farms. The survey was conducted to investigate the presence or absence of the protective clay layer overlying the primary drinking water aquifer. Seismic reflection utilizes listening devices (geophones) spaced at equal intervals across the ground that read the reflection of energy waves off of the subsurface strata. Travel time differences will paint a picture of the substructure such as the presence of absence of the clay. With the geophones spaced 25 cm apart and energy applied every meter, the survey lasted three weeks – this level of detail not before used in the region. An eighteen-member team of undergraduate and graduate students worked on a research effort. Students participated in geophone planting (fields, road, and forest), detonating the energy source (a custom made 12-gauge shotgun with a 200 g powder blank inserted 2 ft below ground surface), benchmark creation using a L1/L2 GPS array, surveying of over 1000 energy shotpoints with a total station, and drilling using a Giddings rig. Results from the survey should be released by December of this year or early next year. This effort was funded by the State of Tennessee, Shelby County government and Cargill, with in-kind support from Memphis Light, Gas and Water and in collaboration with Agricenter International. Questions regarding the research may be directed to Dr. Brian Waldron.

The research team on Day 1 preparing to initiate the survey

Daniel Bowling (CE undergrad, drilling), Jaindang Ge (ES - CERI doctoral) using a Gidding’s rig to drill the 2 ft. holes for detonation of the shotgun.


From front to back, Dr. Beatrice Magnani, Landon Mills (CE undergrad), Jason Morat, Chris Stransky (DES – Geology undergrad), Kyle Doudrick (CE masters), Daniel Bowling(CE undergrad), and Zach Lawrence (DES – CERI doctoral) rolling the geophone spread past the control center.

Krista Stevens (DES – Geology masters) initializing the L1/L2 GPS to set a benchmark for the survey team.

From left to right, Ivan Rabak (DES – CERI doctoral) and Chris Stransky prepping the next shot hole with water and a protective cover, Landon Mills loading the shotgun cartridge, Dr. Brian Waldron cleaning the gun, and Daniel Bowling standing ready with the trigger cable and firing rod.


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