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Mapping transboundary buried valley aquifers along the Manitoba-North Dakota border

In south-western Manitoba, at least four buried valley aquifers cross the international border between the United States and Canada. The Geological Survey of Canada is using innovative approaches to delineate buried valley aquifers along the Manitoba-North Dakota border. Mapping of buried
valley aquifers is particularly challenging in these areas due to the lack of surface expression and their narrow, elongated shape. Studies using water well records and targeted drilling programs have had limited success in delineating the buried valleys and developing sound conceptual geological
and hydrogeological models because they lack the required data resolution and continuity. Key elements of the characterization of buried valley aquifer systems include the delineation of aquifer boundaries, hydraulic boundaries within the aquifers as well as any permeable and hydraulically connected
elements of the valley fill that may provide pathways for aquifer replenishment. Surface and airborne geophysical methods provide spatially continuous datasets that greatly assist aquifer mapping, conceptual model development and the selection of key study areas for additional ground based
investigations. This presentation will highlight data collected for the Spiritwood, Medora-Waskada and Pierson transboundary buried valley aquifers -- three aquifers with significant differences in their dimensions and geological architecture.
A complication in the study of transboundary aquifers is data integration across the border. For the Spiritwood aquifer, data collection programs on either side of the border have differed greatly. Whereas there are extensive geophysical data on the Canadian side, there has been more focus on
targeted borehole drilling, piezometers and monitoring data on the US side. These differences make it difficult to provide consistent mapping and aquifer characterization across the international boundary.

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