Karl Butler (Professor of Geology and Engineering)

Karl Butler headshot

PhD University of British Columbia
MSc University of British Columbia
BSc Queen's University

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

Contact Information