Avoiding Caverns in the Arbuckle Mountains Using Electrical Imaging Methods

Publication Abstract:

The Arbuckle Mountains in Oklahoma are a unique province with nearly vertical dipping beds of the Upper Cambrian to Lower Ordovician Arbuckle Group.  The Arbuckle Group consists of intercalated sequences of thick carbonates and thinner shales and sandstones.  Syn-Pennsylvanian mountain building steeply tilted these beds.  Subsequently, caves and voids developed within the carbonate beds, presumably by hypogene speleogenesis.

Numerous dissolution cavities and several major cave systems have been mapped within the Arbuckle Mountain Wind Farm located 19 km north of Ardmore, Oklahoma.  Electrical resistivity imaging was determined to be the most effective method of mapping subsurface voids and caverns due to the strong electrical contrast between carbonate units and void-filling sediments and groundwater.

Electrical resistivity imaging during early stages of the wind farm development identified numerous caverns and voids beneath proposed turbine sites; consequently, several wind tower locations were moved.  This report addresses the East Access Road to six proposed turbine wind tower sites where three towers and access road near the towers were relocated south of their original proposed locations locations.  Further, the Main Access Road to these six tower sites had to be rerouted due to the presence of two previously unidentified sinkholes and a major cavern system, the Wild Woman Cave Complex.

Electrical imaging method identified subsurface anomalies along the proposed access roads and at four of the six towers.  The towers were moved away from the subsurface anomalies and the access roads were relocated to positions where subsurface anomalies would not pose a hazard to the heavy crawler cranes, used to erect the towers.  The 50-tower Anadarko Mountain Wind Farm was successfully completed in 2016.

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Electrical Imaging Methods to Map Caverns in the Arbuckle Mountains