Willowstick White Paper 2016

The Willowstick method has proven effective in reducing exploration and remediation costs associated with complicated groundwater issues. We’ve completed hundreds of successful subsurface water mapping projects for companies across a variety of industries. From mapping leaks under or through dams, mining related seepage, environmental contamination and remediation to the oil and gas industry, if you have frustrating subsurface water issues we may be able to help. 

The following resources describe some of the projects we have completed:


  • Willowstick Technologies has been successfully identifying and characterizing groundwater flow paths around the world for more than 12 years. Recently Willowstick introduced the Willowstick Instrument for Leak Detection (WILDTM).
  • WILD is a product that uses Willowstick’s proven technology to pinpoint the exact location and volume of water exfiltration and/or infiltration through pipelines and tunnels.
  • The WILD instrument collects data inside pipelines in order to measure changes in magnetic fields caused by infiltration and/or exfiltration. In addition to the magnetic field measurements, we use multiple methodologies to detect the location and volume of any leaks. For more information please download the product sheets and case study below, and email us at info@willowstick.com with any questions.

Smiley face   WILDTM—The WillowstickTM Instrument for Leak Detection

Smiley face   WILDTM-C—Leak Detection for Conductive Pipes

Smiley face   CASE STUDY—Tunnel Leak Detection

Smiley face   Recorded Webinar—Finding Leaks in Tunnels Using The Willowstick Intrument for Leak Detection (WILDTM )


Never remediate a dam without first doing a Willowstick survey.
— DR ANDY HUGHES Atkins Global, UK expert witness/panelist, former ICOLD presidency

Dams leak! Only some of the leaks require investigation and remediation. When they do then finding the pathway of the leak becomes an expensive and slow process, often characterized by “trial and error” wells that further impair the integrity of the structure. If only we could strip off the top 500 feet of sediment or drain the water bearing structure it should be easy to know the precise location of remediation efforts. But of course it is not simple or cost viable to take either action. A much better alternative is to collect specialized data with highly sensitive instruments along all relevant points, map the data using the latest groundwater geophysics technology or hydrogeophysics technology, create 3D models of the subsurface including the flow path of the leak in question, and finally use proprietary software filters and algorithms to predict ongoing effects of the water problem. This modern non-invasive solution is similar to the means a radiologist might use to look inside a human body to better understand what is taking place before undergoing a surgery. 

Proven technology — Willowstick utilizes technology that has proven effective in geology, biomagnetics, military, and other scientific fields for over 30 years. Willowstick has been perfecting this technology as it applies to geophysics for the past 12 years. We are often able to use breakthroughs in magnetic instrument technology as a road map to guide our research and development in geophysical applications

Quick — Willowstick investigations take days, not weeks or months. We can show preliminary results within a few days of arriving on site. Rapid feedback and model creation enable our teams in the field to iterate their data gathering and mapping based on the preliminary results our analysts are seeing in the data.

Non-intrusive — Nearly all Willowstick investigations are performed using existing wells or piezometers. There is no need for expensive and time-consuming drilling. We can see the pathways beneath you feet by energizing between the reservoir and the seep. Many of the patterns we identify are so clear that customers use them as the ongoing map of their as-built structure

Full Pathway — Willowstick shows you the full pathway of water exiting a dam. We energize the water from the reservoir to the leak below the dam. This allows us to measure and map the individual pathways of water. We identify and show you in plan and elevation, in 2D and 3D, the individual pathways.

Tailored — The fieldwork we perform today can be shown to our clients tomorrow giving them near real-time insight into the health of their dam. This rapid sharing of information allows us to tailor and modify our investigation, if needed, while we are still onsite. Willowstick allows dam owners and operators to quickly make decisions based on intelligence rather than guesses. 

Monitoring — Another benefit of a Willowstick investigation is to observe and evaluate changes over time using our Willowstick Compare™ capability. In much the same way that a dentist compares current x-rays with earlier ones, our clients are comparing the results of their current Willowstick investigation with earlier results to gauge the effectiveness of their remedial works, categorize the level of concern, and determine the level of risk facing the owner or the regulator of the dam, reservoir, or canal. Performing these investigations at regular intervals allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the health of the dam than has previously been possible.

Wide range of effectiveness — Dams that are build on karst, fractured rock or otherwise complex geology make it even more difficult to map the water pathways. These structures represent ideal conditions for Willowstick since their water paths are highly conductive and the rock acts as an insulator thus providing excellent contrast for our electric current.

Reduce costs — By knowing the location and elevation of a leak our clients are able to accurately scope their remediation works. Instead of guessing they are able to target their repairs. This leads to savings of both time and money.

Reliable — We have been performing Willowstick investigations for more than 10 years. Over 75% of our business comes from repeat customers. Our clients are continually monitoring the accuracy of our models and predictions and continue to use us again and again.




Few industries have more challenges with water than mining. Adequate access to water is a requirement to opening a mine yet water is one of the last hurdles to clear before receiving financial release during mine reclamation and closure activities. Water is also part of the daily operation of mines whether it is dewatering, milling, tailings disposal, pump back systems, or undesirable seepage into operations. For mine owners, risk management has become an essential function of their jobs, and Willowstick's technology has has proven to not only help them in the assessment, but also the mitigation, of risk at their sites.

Tailings dam and leach pad seepage — If leakage occurs suddenly or if the water leaking from an impoundment indicates that the integrity of the structure is at risk or there is an inadequate collection system then remediation is often required. Remediation, unguided by an accurate groundwater model, is a surefire recipe for overspending and partial solutions

Coal ash or coal combustion residuals (CCRs) — The deposit of CCRs in landfills and surface impoundments is highly regulated. CCRs contain contaminants (e.g. mercury, cadmium and arsenic) and without proper management, these contaminants can pollute drinking water, waterways and groundwater. The Willowstick technology can be used to map contaminant transport paths, and is a valuable data-gathering tool to help assess the stability of the impoundments.

Polluted seepage — Water quality inside a tailings storage facility (TSF) or leach pad represents a potential liability to the environment and to the mine. Willowstick maps the pathway of the water out from the TSF or leach pad in order to predict and correct the seepage.

Fractured rock — Identifying the pathways of water in fractured rock is difficult and expensive using traditional methods such as resistivity or drilling, yet Willowstick excels at mapping such water paths. As electric current easily follows through water bearing fractures it generates a dominant magnetic signature that our instruments can map and model.

Leaking liners and covers — Unfortunately liners often have leaks. Finding the location of such leaks, particularly when there is no direct access to the liner is challenging at best. The Willowstick method utilizes fact that the electric current follows the hydraulic connection through the liner to complete our electric circuit. This generates a magnetic field that we measure and map to identify the location of the leak.

Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) / Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) — ARD & AMD are often the byproduct of mining sulfide ore bodies. Mapping and subsurface paths of ARD can be frustrating and time consuming. Identify the recharge source of ARD is also difficult but can potentially allow for preventing ARD. The Willowstick method is able to identify both and allows for targeted capture and remediation.

Other mining applications — Other mining applications of the Willowstick method include infiltration into operations, dewatering, seeps through permafrost, slope stability, pit lakes, leach pad leaks, well siting, bore placement, sump siting and contaminant plume migration. 



Oil and Gas exploration and production are frequently hampered by the presence of subsurface water. Willowstick Technology maps, models, and predicts groundwater flow paths and patterns. Our models enable clients to gain new insight into how preferential pathways connect in the subsurface. Defining which of your wells are compromised, leaking, or endangering existing water features saves time and money while identifying leaks in a processing pond or production water impoundment can save money as well as avoid unnecessary regulatory oversight.

Willowstick can help identify groundwater problems before they mature into full-fledged production delays.




The risk associated with exposure to subsurface pollutants is often associated with groundwater transport. Understanding the three dimensional flow and the fate and transport of contaminants in subsurface systems is notoriously difficult, as those systems are heterogeneous at every scale. Unfortunately, the data density required for accurate conceptual site models can be prohibitively expensive using conventional means, such as drilling wells, or any other one-dimensional tool..

Significantly, newly emerging contaminants, such as PFOS, PFOA and 1,4-dioxane are highly soluble and can readily travel many thousands of feet through groundwater. The successful remediation of these and other polluting compounds requires an accurate understanding of flow pathways; however, delineating these pathways has been extraordinarily challenging.

Willowstick Technologies has developed unique tools and methods to accurately map subsurface groundwater pathways in diverse and complex hydro geologic systems. The methodology provides reliable insights as to where groundwater, and thus contamination, is flowing. Practitioners now have the data density required to place wells in the precise locations to maximize the probably of remediation success. Targeted remediation can yield significant cost savings.

In the broad and diverse world of environmental remediation the Willowstick Technology can be a vital tool and a necessary insurance policy to better define subsurface preferential pathways, mitigate risk, and implement precise remediation strategies.