Profile page for: Karl Butler | UNB

Karl Butler

Professor, Chair


Earth Sciences

Forestry/Geology 124

1 506 458 7210

Current research interests

My primary research interests are in rock physics and in the development of geophysical methods for engineering, environmental and exploration application. My projects commonly involve a component of field work and make use of a variety of techniques including electrical, seismic, magnetic, gravity and ground penetrating radar (GPR) surveys on surface, geophysical well logging in boreholes and shallow marine surveys on water.

Studies on groundwater resources and the use of electrical methods to infer the movement of water and other fluids through porous and fractured media are of particular interest. In recent years, my students and I have also worked on novel applications of geophysics in studies of earthquake site response, impact craters, coastal marine and estuarine sedimentology, sulphide deposits, and the delineation of a sedimentary basin by gravity surveying.

I have a long-standing interest in seismoelectric phenomena that arise as a consequence of electrokinetic coupling between seismic waves and electrical fields. Such effects, dependent on the movement of water within porous and fractured media, have potential for use in aquifer and reservoir imaging and characterization. My students, colleagues and I have developed specialized instrumentation and techniques for the measurement of weak seismoelectric fields. We continue to work on field experiments to test the predictions of theoretical models and demonstrate potential applications in various fields including hydrogeology and glaciology.

Some current and recent projects include:

  • development of seismoelectric/electroseismic methods of exploration
  • development of self-potential (SP) monitoring methods sensitive to groundwater flow in both porous media and fractured rock aquifers
  • development of lab equipment for the measurement of resistivity and induced polarization effects in rock cores
  • geophysical monitoring of groundwater and nitrate infiltration processes on Prince Edward Island
  • investigation of seawater intrusion into a sandstone aquifer along the Northumberland Strait of New Brunswick
  • assessing the influence of natural fracture networks and geological heterogeneity on wellfield response in a Carboniferous sandstone aquifer near Sussex, New Brunswick
  • hydrogeological implications of fold-generated fracturing in an argillaceous carbonate bedrock aquifer underlying agricultural areas in northwestern New Brunswick
  • geophysical imaging of the river valley aquifer at Fredericton, New Brunswick using riverine and land-based seismic and electrical methods
  • assessment of seismic amplification and resonance effects in the soft sediments underlying Fredericton, NB
  • a marine magnetic investigation of the île Rouleau meteorite impact structure, Quebec
  • petrophysical and magnetic resonance imaging studies of permeability fabrics in reservoir rocks of Atlantic Canada
  • development of a geo-electrical approach for monitoring the migration of mine water neutralization sludge in waste rock
  • swath seismic imaging of marginal marine depositional environments in the Bay of Fundy

Selected publications

Butler, K.E., McLean, D.B., Cosma, C., and Enescu, N., In Press.  A borehole seismic reflection survey in support of seepage surveillance at the abutment of a large embarkment dam.  Accepted for publication in Lorenzo, J.M. and Doll, W.E. (eds.), "Levees and Dams: Advances in Geophysical Monitoring and Characterization", to be published by Springer-Verlag.

Dupuis, C., Kepic, A.W., and Butler, K.E., In Press.  Design of field instrumentation and noise removal techniques for seismoelectric measurements.  Accepted for publication in Grobbe, N., Revil, A., Zhu, Z., and Slob, E. (eds.) "Seismoelectric exploration: Theory, experiments and applications", to be published by AGU Books.

Kulessa, B., Garambois, S., Dietrich, M., Butler, K.E., Thompson, S.S., and Stuart, G., In Press.  Seismoelectric characterization of ice sheets and glaciers.  Accepted for publication in Grobbe, N., Revil, A., Zhu, Z., and Slob, E. (eds.) "Seismoelectric exploration: Theory, experiments and applications", to be published by AGU Books.

Lamb, K.J., MacQuarrie, K.T.B., Butler, K.E., Danielescu, S., Mott, E., Grimmet, M., and Zebarth, B.J., 2019.  Hydrogeophysical monitoring reveals primarily vertical movement of an applied tracer across a shallow, sloping low-permeability till interface: Implications for agricultural nitrate transport.  J. of Hydrology, 573. 616-630,

Butler, K.E., Kulessa, B., and Pugin, A.J.-M., 2018.  Multimode seismoelectric phenomena generated by vibroseis and explosive sources.  Geophysical J. International, 213, 836-850,

DesRoches, A.R., Butler, K.E., and MacQuarrie, K.T.M., 2018, Surface self-potential patterns related to transmissive fracture trends during a water injection test, Geophysical Journal International, 212, 2047-2060,

Bent, A.L., Halchuk, S., Peci, V., Butler, K.E., Burke, K.B.S., Adams, J., Dahal, N., and Hayek, S., 2017, The McAdam New Brunswick earthquake swarms of 2012 and 2015-16: extremely shallow, natural events.  Seismological Research Letters, 88, 1586-1600,  

DesRoches, A.J., and Butler, K.E., 2016, Monitoring and modeling of pumping-induced self potentials for transmissivity estimation within a heterogeneous confined aquifer, Geophysical Journal International, 207, 1722-1738.

Ringeri, A., and Butler, K.E., 2016, Long term monitoring and numerical modeling of self-potential for seepage surveillance at Mactaquac dam, New Brunswick, Canada.  Proceedings of 69th Canadian Geotechnical Conference (GeoVancouver 2016), Oct. 2nd - 5th, Vancouver.

Lelievre, P., Farquharson, C., and Butler, K., 2016, Inversion for wireframe surface geometry applied to the Cocagne Subbasin, New Brunswick, Canada.  SEG Technical Program Expanded Abstracts 2016, pp. 1617-1621, Oct 16-21, Dallas.

DesRoches, A., Danielescu, S., and Butler, K., 2014, Structural controls on groundwater flow in a fractured bedrock aquifer underlying an agricultural region of northwestern New Brunswick, Canada, Hydrogeology Journal, 10.1007/s10040-014-1134-0.

DesRoches, A.J., Butler, K.E., and Pelkey, S., 2013, Influence of fracture anisotropy and lithological heterogeneity on wellfield response in a fluvial sandstone aquifer of the Carboniferous Moncton Subbasin, Canada, Hydrogeology Journal, 21, 559-572, DOI:10.1007/s10040-012-0931-6.

MacQuarrie, K., Butler, K., Mott, E., and Green, N., 2012, A case study of coastal aquifers near Richibucto, New Brunswick: Saline groundwater occurrence and potential impacts of climate change on seawater intrusion, Report submitted to Atlantic Climate Solutions Association (ACASA), 89 p., Available for download at

Evangelatos, J. and Butler, K.E. 2011, Gravity Survey of the Cocagne-Buctouche-Richibucto Area, (parts of 21 I/02, 03, 06, 07, 10 & 11) eastern New Brunswick. New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources; Lands, Minerals and Petroleum Division, Open File (DVD-ROM) 2010-4, 35 p.

Mott, E., Butler, K., Green, N. and MacQuarrie, K., 2011, Application of ERT to the investigation of seawater intrusion at Richibucto, New Brunswick. Proceedings of GeoHydro 2011: Joint Mtg. of the Canadian Quaternary Association and the Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, Aug. 28 – 31, Quebec, Canada, 6 pp.

Evangelatos, J., and Butler, K.E., 2010, New gravity data in eastern New Brunswick: implications for structural delineation of the Cocagne Subbasin. In Geological Investigations in New Brunswick for 2009, Edited by G.L. Martin. New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources; Lands, Minerals and Petroleum Division, Mineral Resource Report 2010-1, p. 98–122.

Dupuis, J.C., Butler, K.E., Kepic, A.W., and Harris, B.D., 2009, Anatomy of a seismoelectric conversion: Measurements and conceptual modeling in boreholes penetrating a sandy aquifer. Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, B10306, doi:10.1029/2008JB005939.

Evangelatos, J.E., Butler, K.E, and Spray, J.G., 2009, A marine magnetic study of a carbonate-hosted impact structure: Île Rouleau, Canada. Geophysical Journal International, 179, 171-181.

Butler, K.E., 2009, Trends in waterborne electrical and EM induction methods for high resolution sub-bottom imaging. Near Surface Geophysics, 7, 241-246.

van Proosdij, D., Milligan, T., Bugden, G., and Butler, K., 2009, A tale of two macro tidal estuaries: differential morphodynamic response of the intertidal zone to causeway construction. Journal of Coastal Research, SI 56 (Proceedings of the 10th International Coastal Symposium), 772-776.

Dupuis, J.C., Butler, K.E., and Kepic, A.W., 2007, Seismoelectric imaging of the vadose zone of a sand aquifer. Geophysics, 72, A81-A85.

Dashtgard, S.E., White, R.O., Butler, K.E., and Gingras, M.K., 2007, Effects of relative sea level change on the depositional character of an embayed beach, Bay of Fundy, Canada. Marine Geology, 239, 143-161, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2007.01.004.

Butler, K.E., Dupuis, J.C., and Kepic, A.W., 2007, Improvements in signal-to-noise in seismoelectric acquisition, Proc. of Exploration 07, Sept. 9-12, Toronto, p. 1137-1141.

Dupuis, J.C. and Butler, K.E., 2006, Vertical seismoelectric profiling in a borehole penetrating glaciofluvial sediments. Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L16301, doi:10.1029/2006GL026385.

Dashtgard, S.E., Gingras, M.K., and Butler, K.E., 2006, Sedimentology and stratigraphy of a transgressive, muddy gravel beach: Waterside Beach, Bay of Fundy, Canada. Sedimentology, 53, 270-296.

Butler, K.E., Nadeau, J.-C., MacQuarrie, K.T.B., Dawe, M.R., Hunter, J.A., and Parrott, R., 2006, Hydrostratigraphy and recharge in a river valley aquifer as inferred from seismic, electromagnetic, and thermal methods, Proc. of 19th Symposium on Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP 2006), Apr. 2-6, Seattle, 976-989.

White, R.O., Butler, K.E., Simpkin, P.G., and Dashtgard, S.E., 2006, Pseudo-3D sub-bottom imaging of a dynamic beach environment in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada, Proc. of 19th Symposium on Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP 2006), Apr. 2-6, Seattle, 1042-1054.

Al, T.A., MacQuarrie, K.T., Butler, K.E., Nadeau, J.-C., Dawe, M.R., and Amskold, L., 2005, River-connected aquifers: Geophysics, stratigraphy, hydrogeology and geochemistry, In Water Encyclopedia: Ground Water, J.H. Lehr and J. Keeley (eds), John Wiley & Sons Publishing, 677-688.

Coleman, M.M., Butler, K.E., Mersich, A., and Al, T.A., 2005, Tracking sludge disposal using electrical conductivity mapping, Proc. of the 2005 National Meeting of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation, June 19-23, p. 236-254.

Belonogov, A., Marica, F., Lawfield, A., Butler, K.E., Chen, Q., Gingras, M., and Balcom, B., 2005, Magnetic resonance imaging of porosity heterogeneity in bioturbated sandstone from the White Rose reservoir, Atlantic Canada, SCA2005-60, Proceedings 19th International Symposium of Society of Core Analysts.

Butler, K.E., Nadeau, J.-C., Parrott, R., and Daigle, A., 2004, Delineating recharge to a river valley aquifer by riverine seismic and EM methods. Journal of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics, 9, 95-109.

Butler, K.E., and Russell, R.D., 2003, Cancellation of multiple harmonic noise series in geophysical records. Geophysics, 68, 1083-1090.

Butler, K.E., Kepic, A.W., and Rosid, M.S., 2002, An experimental seismoelectric survey for groundwater exploration in the Australian Outback, Expanded Abstracts, 72nd Ann. Internat. Mtg., Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Al, T., and Butler, K.E. (2001). Environmental geoscience: acid mine drainage in the Minto coal fields. The 2001 New England Intercollegiate Geological Conf., Sept. 21-23, Fredericton, NB, p. A3.1 - A3.10.

Kepic, A.W., Russell, R.D., Maxwell, M., and Butler, K.E., 2001, Underground tests of the radio pulsed effect seismoelectric method at the Lynx Mine, Canada. Exploration Geophysics 32, 107-112.

Butler, K.E., Fleming, S., and Russell, R.D., 1999, A field test for linearity of seismoelectric conversions. Canadian Journal of Exploration Geophysics 35, 20-23.

Russell, R.D., Butler, K.E., Kepic, A.W., and Maxwell, M., 1997, Seismoelectric exploration. The Leading Edge 16, 1611- 1615.

Butler, K.E., Russell, R.D., Kepic, A.W., and Maxwell, M., 1996, Measurement of the seismoelectric response from a shallow boundary. Geophysics 61, 1769-1778.

Butler, K.E. and Russell, R.D., 1993, Subtraction of powerline harmonics from geophysical records. Geophysics 58, 898-903.