3D modelling of near-surface, environmental effects on AEM data

Beamish, David. 2004 3D modelling of near-surface, environmental effects on AEM data. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 56 (4). 263-280.

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This study considers the three-dimensional (3D) modelling of compact, at-surface conductive bodies on frequency domain airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey data. The context is the use of AEM data for environmental and land quality applications. The 3D structures encountered are typically conductive, of limited thickness (<20 m) and form ‘point’ source locations carrying potential environmental risk. The scale of such bodies may generate single-profile, ‘bulls-eye’ anomalies. In attempts to recover geological information, such anomalies may be considered to represent noise. In environmental AEM, the correct interpretation of such features is important. The study uses a combination of theoretical models and trial-fixed-wing survey data obtained in populated areas of the UK. Scale issues are discussed in terms of the volumetric footprints of the induced electric field generated by systems flown at both low and high elevation. One of the primary uses of AEM survey data lies in the assessment of conductivity maps. These are typically obtained using one-dimensional (1D) conductivity models at individual measurement points. In order to investigate the limitations of this approach, 3D modelling of conductive structures with dimensions less than 350×350 m and thicknesses extending to 20 m has been carried out. A 1D half space inversion of the data obtained at each frequency is then used to assess the behaviour of the spatial information. The results demonstrate that half space conductivity values obtained over compact 3D targets generally provide only apparent conductivity results. For thin, at-surface bodies, conductivity values are biased to lower values than the true conductivity except at high frequency. The spatial perturbation to both coupling ratios and 1D conductivity models can be laterally extensive. The results from 3D modelling indicate that the use of horizontal derivatives applied to the conductivity models offers enhanced edge detection. The practical application of such derivatives to both regional- and local-scale survey data is presented.. The special case of a near-surface, metallic pipeline has been modelled. The problem constitutes an inductive limit (current gathering) response in which the perturbation is largely confined to the in-phase coupling ratios. The main perturbations, in data and conductivity models, are within about 40 m of each side of the pipeline. The maximum perturbation to the conductivity model is only a factor of 1.5 above background. Detailed survey data across a former compact landfill (about 100×100 m) are used to compare the model behaviour predicted by the 3D modelling with survey results. The survey, conducted at two separate altitudes, provides a demonstration of 3D effects on 1D survey models as a function of frequency and elevation. Although the nature of the landfill materials and their location are not known precisely, the mapping information appears realistic.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Other
ISSN: 0926-9851
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 01 May 2015 10:50 +0 (UTC)

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