An assessment of inversion methods for AEM data applied to environmental studies

Beamish, David. 2002 An assessment of inversion methods for AEM data applied to environmental studies. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 51 (2-4). 75-96.

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Airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveys are currently being flown over populated areas and applied to detailed problems using high flight line densities. Interpretation information is supplied through a model of the subsurface resistivity distribution. Theoretical and survey data are used here to study the character and reliability of such models. Although the survey data were obtained using a fixed-wing system, the corresponding associations with helicopter, towed-bird systems are discussed. Both Fraser half-space and 1D inversion techniques are considered in relation to their ability to distinguish geological, cultural and environmental influences on the survey data. Fraser half-space modelling provides the dual interpretation parameters of apparent resistivity and apparent depth at each operational frequency. The apparent resistivity was found to be a remarkably stable parameter and appears robust to the presence of a variety of at-surface cultural features. Such features provide both incorrect altitude data and multidimensional influences. Their influences are observed most strongly in the joint estimate of apparent depth and this accounts for the stability of the apparent resistivity. Positive apparent depths, in the example data, result from underestimated altitude measurements. It is demonstrated that increasingly negative apparent depths are associated with increasing misfits between a 1D model and the data. Centroid depth calculations, which are a transform of the Fraser half-space parameters, provide an example of the detection of non-1D influences on data obtained above a populated area. 1D inversion of both theoretical and survey data is examined. The simplest use of the 1D inversion method is in providing an estimate of a half-space resistivity. This can be undertaken prior to multilayer inversion as an initial assessment. Underestimated altitude measurements also enter the problem and, in keeping with the Fraser pseudo-layer concept, an at-surface highly resistive layer of variable thickness can be usefully introduced as a constrained parameter. It is clearly difficult to ascribe levels of significance to a ‘measure’ of misfit contained in a negative apparent depth with the dimensions of metres. The reliability of 1D models is better assessed using a formal misfit parameter. With the misfit parameter in place, the example data suggest that the 1D inversion methods provide reliable apparent resistivity values with a higher resolution than the equivalent information from the Fraser half-space estimates.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Other
Additional Keywords: Airborne geophysics, electromagnetic methods, inversion, assessment of environmental influences
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 25 Mar 2015 08:44 +0 (UTC)

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