Fracture Trace and Lineament Analysis: Application to Groundwater Characterization and Protection (short course #241)

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Date: October 29-November 1, 2018
Location: State College, Pennsylvania
CEUs: 3.2
Education level: Intermediate*



This four-day course presents instruction and hands-on training in the skills of identifying bedrock type and mapping fracture traces and lineaments on stereo-pair aerial photographs and appropriate satellite images for investigative site analysis.

Fracture trace, lineament, and photogeologic analysis are recognized field tools hydrogeologists, geoscientists, and engineers use for:

  • Locating high-yield wells and/or wellfields, springs, wetlands, and pollutant sources
  • Siting monitoring wells in aquifers dominated by fracture flow
  • Intercepting pollutants for aquifer restoration
  • Characterizing the state and nature of bedrock and surficial deposits for foundation and slope stability investigations and related geotechnical projects (roof stability in mines and tunnels, landfills, and dam sites).

Geoscientists and engineers with a working knowledge of fracture trace analysis eliminate a lot of guesswork and uncertainty involved in field projects.

Course instructors Gold and Parizek are two of the foremost authorities in the field of applied remote sensing. Both are university professors with extensive field experience and publications to their credit. They have designed this course to provide you with:

  • Detailed information on the nature and hydrologic significance of fracture trace and lineament-related structures including example geotechnical applications
  • Recognition criteria to allow you to be able to distinguish from other geological and manmade causes of photolinears
  • Mapping experiences in the interpretation of aerial photographs and remote sensing images
  • A means to identify fracture traces and lineaments under a variety of rock types, soil, climatic, and land-use conditions
  • Photogeologic keys for the recognition of well-developed and poorly expressed fracture traces
  • Useful information on the processing of fracture trace and lineament data
  • Information on the use of aerial photographs and images for the identification of soils, glacial and related landforms, and pollutant spills.

Additional information

Field trip

A day-long field trip in the surrounding countryside of Penn State University is a course highlight that provides you the opportunity to locate and examine field evidence of fracture traces and structures mapped during two class exercises. You will also witness the hydrodynamic effects in a fracture bedrock aquifer system by visiting high-yield production wells located on fracture intersections, including the first two wells known to be sited using this method, tremendous flowing springs and streams fed by groundwater, and limestone outcrops displaying dense joint networks and solution cavities. Penn State's living filter project will be visited where fracture traces were used in site characterization studies and to locate monitoring wells.

Learning objectives

In this course, you will learn how to:

  • Employ the method of distinguishing fracture trace- and lineament-related structures from other natural and man-made photolinears
  • Map and interpret fracture traces and lineaments under various soil, geological, climatic, and land-use conditions
  • Access interpretation keys prepared by trained experts for the continued independent study and review of fracture traces and lineaments under various soil, geological, climatic, and land-use conditions
  • Gain detailed insight into the variable nature of these independent structures, methods for their characterization, and applications to diverse geotechnical projects
  • Recognize surficial deposits, landforms, and man-made features of value in site hydrogeologic reconnaissance and characterization efforts
  • Utilize methods for photoreading, photoanalysis, and photodeduction when studying aerial photographs.

You will receive

  • A course notebook
  • Comprehensive course notes including supplemental reference material for follow-up readings
  • Answer key overlays showing the interpretations of fracture traces and lineaments that have been mapped by Gold and Parizek after years of working experience; these will be yours to keep and refer to as a refresher
  • Stereo-paired aerial photographs for each mapping exercise that will be your property
  • Refreshment breaks and midmorning and afternoon snacks
  • Lunch each day.

You should bring

  • Personal laptop computer to follow PowerPoint® presentations (especially important)
  • Your own stereoscope that you use routinely at work; if you do not have access to a stereoscope, you will need to purchase a 10x power pocket stereoscope (pocket stereoscopes will be available at the course for approximately $30)
  • Boots or old tennis shoes, raingear, clipboard, notebook, pencil, and a camera (optional) for the field trip
  • An extra piece of luggage or carrier to transport your course materials home.

Who should attend?

  • Hydrogeologists
  • Environmental consultants
  • Regulatory personnel
  • Owners of business and industrial facilities.

Consultants will become better acquainted with the uses and limitations of applying fracture trace analysis procedures to geotechnical projects, and the process of analysis one must go through to be successful.

Regulatory personnel will understand the importance of having these structure features included in site assessment projects and pollution control and clean-up projects.

Owners of business and industrial facilities will learn the risks they are subjected to by ignoring these structures.

*Note regarding education level

You should have had some introductory experience working with stereo models and aerial photographic interpretations. Those having basic geologic, soil, agricultural, land-use planning, engineering, or related experiences will benefit most from this course.


Day 1

7:30 a.m. Registration

8:15 a.m. Introductory remarks

8:30 a.m. Section 2: Basic remote sensing systems — the aerial photograph, definition, spectral and spatial data, capture and presentation, and object and spatial resolution

10:00 a.m. Refreshment break

10:15 a.m. Section 3: Photogrammetry and quantitative photogeology — photo keys;
Sections 4A and 4B: Format and identification codes, and products and sources

11:15 a.m. Exercise #1: Photogeologic interpretation of Mecatina Basin, Quebec, Canada

12:00 p.m. Lunch (provided)

1:00 p.m. Section 5: Fracture traces and lineaments — nature, definition, morphological expression, and mapping techniques;
Section 6: Handbook on use of fracture traces in water well location

2:30 p.m. Exercise # 2: Fracture patterns in Columbia River basalt flows, and aerial photographs of Channeled Scablands of the Palouse River Canyon

3:15 p.m. Refreshment break

3:30 p.m. Section 7: Photogeologic principles and morphotectonic controls

5:00 p.m. Exercise #3: Photogeologic interpretation of Elk Basin, Wyoming

6:00 p.m. Course adjourns for the day

Day 2

8:00 a.m. Section 8: Geologic terrain analysis, part 1 — bedrock features

9:45 a.m. Refreshment break

10:00 a.m. Section 9: Identification of hydrologic features on aerial photographs

12:00 p.m. Lunch (provided)

1:00 p.m. Exercise # 4: Fracture trace mapping on aerial photographs in sandstone, shale, and carbonate terrain — Nittany Valley

2:30 p.m. Section 10: Geologic terrain analysis, part 2 — surficial deposits

4:30 p.m. Refreshment break

4:45 p.m. Exercise # 5: Fracture trace mapping around landfill, waste water land application. and wellfield sites in central Pennsylvania using aerial photographs as a base in carbonate terrain — Nittany Valley

5:30 p.m. Review of mapping exercises

6:00 p.m. Course adjourns for the day

8:00 p.m. Optional evening session on fractals and chaos theory; Exercise 9: The coastline problem — introduction to fractal dimensions of areas and volumes, and hierarchical networks (drainage systems, caves, and fracture sets)

9:30 p.m. Optional evening session adjourns

Day 3

Today is the field trip — be sure to wear field gear, and bring exercises #4 and #5 with you; a box lunch will be provided

8:00 a.m. Leave Penn Stater (main entrance) for the central Pennsylvania region — deformed (folded and faulted) strata (shale, sandstone, limestone, and dolostone) exposed in the Valley and Ridge Province, a physiographic province of the Appalachian fold belt

  • Examine field evidence and expressions of fracture traces and lineaments mapped in exercises #4 and #5 — structures will be examined under different topographic and land-use settings, including areas of bedrock, as well as transported and residual soil, some exceeding 165 feet in thickness
  • Demonstrate field location techniques and applications to siting production wells and wellfields, foundation and slope stability analysis, and location of monitoring wells and pollutant retrieval wells; examples of geophysical applications
  • Field inspection of fracture zones within carbonate rocks
  • Field inspection of McAleveys Fort/Port Matilda lineament

5:30 p.m. Return to Penn Stater; course adjourns for the day

Day 4

8:00 a.m. Section 11: Analysis and management of spatial data — transfer techniques, bulk parameters, chaos theory (multiscale data sets and fractal dimensions), merging data, and geographic information systems; emerging technologies — LiDAR

9:15 a.m. Case study: LiDAR — Eastford fault zone, Connecticut (Robert Altamura)

9:45 a.m. Radar stratigraphy (Robert Altamura)

10:15 a.m. Refreshment break

10:30 a.m. Case study: Valley of the Kings, Egypt (Katarin Parizek)

11:00 a.m. Case history: Black Warrior Basin, Alabama (exercise #8)

11:30 a.m. Exercise #6: Mt. Desert Island, Maine, or Exercise #7: Sunderland delta, Massachusetts (glacial and proglacial landforms — depends on participant interest)

12:00 p.m. Lunch (provided)

1:00 p.m. Exercise #6 or #7 continued

1:30 p.m. Section 10: Geologic terrain analysis, part 2 — surficial deposits; glaciated terrains (continued)

3:00 p.m. Refreshment break

3:15 p.m. Landscape and hydrologic elements for regional planning; shale gas development

4:30 p.m. Case history: Yucca Mountain (tentative)

5:30 p.m. Sum-up

6:00 p.m. Course adjourns

NGWA member price — $1,845
Nonmember price — $2,045

Full-time students can save 10% by using code STU-241Oct18.
In order to receive this discount, you need to register by phone, or enter the code on the print form and return it to us by fax or mail.

Team discounts up to 10% available. Click for more details.
Venue and accommodations

The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel

215 Innovation Blvd.
State College, Pennsylvania 16803
(814) 863-5000


NGWA has secured a limited block of rooms on a first come, first served basis at the group rate of $119 per night/single and double occupancy. These rates apply to the NGWA room block and are valid until the September 28, 2018 cutoff, unless our block has been filled before that date. When making your reservations, be sure to use the NGWA personal reservation identification code "NGWA18A" whether making reservations online at or by phoning (800) 233-7505. Remember, you are responsible for securing your own reservations. For guest check-in and checkout times, please contact the hotel directly.