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D1.1: Magnetotelluric response of a halfspace at normal incidence

Consider a plane, polarized, electromagnetic wave that is normally incident on the Earthair interface. A transmitted wave will enter the Earth and diffuse downwards, while a

reflected wave will travel upwards.

Incident wave

The incident wave is polarized in the x-direction has an amplitude Ei , frequency and

wave number k0 and since the conductivity of the air is zero, this wave will not be

damped and the wavenumber is real and defined as

k 0 0 0

(1)

E xi ( z , t ) E i e ik0 z e it

(2)

Reflected wave

This will have an amplitude Er and can be described by a very similar equation to the

incident wave. Since it travels in the opposite direction (upwards), the sign of the spatial

term will be the opposite to the incident wave.

E xr ( z , t ) E r e ik0 z e it

(3)

Transmitted signal

This will have an amplitude Et and since the Earth conductivity is relatively large, it will

propagate in the Earth by diffusion. This assumes that displacement current is

negligible compared to conduction current, as discussed previously.

k1 (1 i )

2

Thus the transmitted signal can be described by:

(4)

E xt ( z , t ) E t e k1z e it

(5)

Note that the wavenumber (k1) is a complex number. The real part will cause exponential

decay with depth, while the imaginary part causes an oscillation.

The signal will decay with a characteristic skin depth, where

503

(m)

Assuming that Ei is known, we now need to derive values for Et and Er to describe the

energy partition at the Earths surface. This requires two equations which are obtained

from imposing boundary conditions at z = 0

Boundary condition 1

Continuity of the horizontal electric field (Ex ) requires that

E xi ( z , t ) E xr ( z , t ) E xt ( z , t )

(6)

Ei Er Et

(7)

Boundary condition 2

1 E x ( z , t )

H y ( z, t )

i

z

is also continuous at z = 0

Incident wave

Reflected wave

Transmitted wave

E xi ( z , t )

E i (ik 0 )e ik0 z e it

z

E xr ( z , t )

E r (ik 0 )e ik0 z e it

z

t

E x ( z , t )

E t ( k1 )e k1 z e it

z

ik 0 E i ik 0 E r k1 E t

This can be rearranged to give

k Et

Ei Er 1

ik 0

Adding (7) and (13) gives

(8)

(9)

(10)

(11)

(12)

(13)

k1 E t

2E E

ik 0

ik k1

)

Ei Et ( 0

2ik 0

i

(14)

(15)

Now re-arrange to express the transmitted amplitude as a ratio of the amplitude of the

incident wave.

2ik 0

Et

(

)

(16)

i

ik 0 k1

E

Consider some typical numbers for a magnetotelluric survey:

= 1 rad / s, 1 = 0.01 S/m, 0 = 4 10-7 H/m, 0 = 8.85 10-12 F/m

k0 = 3.33 10-8 m-1

Thus it is clear that |k0| << |k1| which is a consequence of the displacement current

being much less than conduction current. Equation (16) simplifies to

2ik

Et

( 0)

(17)

i

k1

E

Et

0.00006 , which shows that only

Ei

a small fraction of the incident energy is transmitted across the Earth-Air boundary. Most

is reflected back into the air. However, we will see that enough energy is transmitted for

the MT method to be able to determine the resistivity of the Earth from surface

measurements.

Consider the transmitted EM signal just below the surface. We have shown that:

Ext ( z, t ) E t e k1z e it

(18)

and

H yt ( z , t )

E t ( k1 )e k1 z e it

(19)

i

The impedance is defined as

E ( )

Z xy ( ) x

(20)

H y ( )

and it can be shown that it contains information about the conductivity of the Earth.

Consider the value of impedance at z = 0 for the case of a uniform halfspace Earth.

Z xy ( )

i 0

k1

i 0

i 0 1

i 0

0

(1 i ) 0

i

1

1

2

Note that Zxy ( ) depends only the properties of the Earth, and not the air. The

impedance is a complex number with magnitude:

2

E ( )

0

Z xy ( ) x

H y ( )

1

2

(21)

Z xy

0

Ex

Hy

(22)

This expression can also be written in terms of the resistivity of the Earth (1) as:

Z xy

Ex

0 H y

1

(23)

Note that all terms on the right hand side of (23) can be measured, and this shows how

surface measurements of electric and magnetic fields can be used to measure the

resistivity of the Earth.

It is important to consider which part of the Earth is being sampled in such a

measurement. Since the EM fields attenuate in the Earth with a length scale of a skin

depth (), this measurement samples a hemisphere around the observation site, radius .

Apparent resistivity

In reality, the resistivity of the Earth will not be constant over the hemisphere. In this case

it is usual to define the apparent resistivity as a function of frequency ( ) as:

E x ( )

a ( )

0 H y ( )

1

(24)

If the Earth has a uniform resistivity, then the analysis above shows that a = 1

In general, the resistivity will not be constant with depth. In this case, the apparent

resistivity can be considered as the average resistivity over a hemisphere with radius

equal to the skin depth.

Martyn Unsworth, University of Alberta, 2014

Phase

E ( )

( ) tan 1 Z xy ( ) tan 1 x

H y ( )

(25)

Ex (, t ) | Ex () | eiE eit

H y (, t ) | H y ( ) | ei H eit

Z xy ( ) | Z xy ( ) | e i ( E H )

For an electromagnetic wave traveling in free space Ex and Hy will be in phase with ()

=0

http://www.ccrs.nrcan.gc.ca/glossary/index_e.php?id=3104

(1 i ) 0

( ) Z xy ( ) tan 1

4

1

2

(26)

This phase angle will be observed at all frequencies over a uniform Earth (halfspace)

Summary of D1.1

You should be able to repeat this derivation from first principles, without using

notes.

Note that the absolute value of the incident EM wave amplitude is not important.

This is because the impedance depends on the ratio of electric and magnetic

fields. This makes MT easy to apply as the amplitude of the incoming wave does

not need to be known.

MT_physics_correct_movie.m. Here the incident wave is shown in blue and the

reflected wave in the air is shown in red. In the Earth, the EM energy diffuses and

is shown by the black curve.

http://www.ualberta.ca/~unsworth/UA-classes/424/notes424-2012.html

Can you identify two things that are not quite correct?

D1.2: Magnetotelluric response of a halfspace, at non-normal incidence

Derivation for apparent resistivity and phase in notes

We will prove that the values of apparent resistivity and phase derived from surface EM

fields do not depend on the angle of incidence of the EM wave. This simplifies MT data

analysis, since we do need to know the angle of incidence for a given EM wave.

D1.3: Magnetotelluric response of a 2-layer earth

Qualitative solution for apparent resistivity of a layered Earth

(1)

f = 10 Hz

(2) f = 1 Hz

At high frequency, the skin depth is much less than the thickness of the layer.

Average resistivity over a hemisphere, radius = is the resistivity of the upper layer.

Average resistivity begins to increase as the 100 m layer is being sampled.

(3) f = 0.1 Hz

= 5000 m in upper layer

Hemisphere dominated by lower layer, so apparent resistivity close to 100 m

(4) f = 0.01 Hz

= 15800 m in upper layer

Apparent resistivity approaches 100 m asymptotically

Quantitative solution for apparent resistivity of a 2-layer Earth

Assume a plane EM wave with angular

frequency and amplitude A1 hits the

ground at normal incidence.

The electric field is polarized in the xdirection, and the magnetic field is

polarized in the y-direction.

Down going wave

E x ( z , t ) A1e iko z e it

Up going wave

E x ( z , t ) A2 e iko z e it

Down going signal

Up going signal

E x ( z , t ) B1e

k1 z

E x ( z , t ) B2 e

k1 z

1

2

it

e it

Down going signal

E x ( z , t ) Ce

k2 z

2

2

it

To compute the impedance at z = 0, we can specify the incident wave amplitude (A1) and

need to compute A2, B1, B2 and C. Thus we should apply four boundary conditions.

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

Horizontal magnetic field at z=0

Horizontal electric field at z=h

Horizontal magnetic field at z=h

After a modest amount of algebra, you can show (see Assignment 1) that:

2 A1iko (k1 k 2 )

B2

[(iko k1 )(k1 k 2 )e 2 k1h (iko k1 )(k1 k2 )]

and

2 A1iko (k1 k2 )e 2 k1h

B1

[(iko k1 )(k1 k2 )e 2 k1h (iko k1 )(k1 k2 )]

Now we can calculate the impedance (Zxy) at the surface of the Earth (z=0)

Martyn Unsworth, University of Alberta, 2014

We can write Ex B1 B2

Thus Z xy

and

Hy

k

1 Ex

1 ( B1 B2 )

i z i

Ex i ( B1 B2 )

Hy

k1 ( B1 B2 )

Now we need to substitute for the values of B1 and B2 that were previously defined. Note

that they have the same denominator. After some algebra (also in Assignment!) can show

that:

E

i [(k1 k2 )e 2 k1h (k1 k2 )]

Z xy x

Hy

k1 [(k1 k2 )e 2 k1h (k1 k2 )]

To check this expression, consider the high and low frequency limits. What answers

would you expect?

(1) High frequency limit of Zxy

As becomes large, k1 becomes large. Thus e 2 k1 h becomes very large and

Z xy

E x i [(k1 k2 )e 2 k1h ] i

Hy

k1 [(k1 k2 )e 2 k1h ]

k1

Comparing this with the result derived in D1.1, we see that this is the result for a

halfspace of conductivity 1. Is this as expected? Why?

The apparent resistivity can be calculated as:

Z xy

k1

1

1 1

Thus the impedance (computed from field measurements of Ex and Hy) depends only

on the properties of the upper layer.

(2) Low frequency limit of Zxy

When becomes very small, k1 becomes small. Thus e 2 k1h 1

Z xy

Hy

k1 [(k1 k2 ) (k1 k2 )]

k1 [2k2 ]

k2

Comparing this with the result derived in C4.1.1, we see that this is the result for a

halfspace of conductivity 2. Is this as expected? Why?

Martyn Unsworth, University of Alberta, 2014

10

Z xy

k2

2

2 2

At low frequency the impedance (computed from field measurements of Ex and Hy)

depends only on the properties of the lower layer.

Zxy can be evaluated quite simply in MATLAB, as you will discover in Assignment 1.

At what frequency would you expect the change from high to low frequency limit to

occur? Describe the answer in terms of the physics of EM diffusion in the Earth.

Example

Consider 1= 100 ohm-m, 2= 10 ohm-m and h =1000 m. Sketch the shape of the

apparent resistivity curve that would be expected as a function of frequency (f).

11

We can also plot the phase, (Zxy), as a function of frequency (or period).

Previously we showed that at high frequency, Z xy

At low frequency, Z xy

and ( Z xy )

k1

4

i

and again ( Z xy )

k2

4

One way is to evaluate the full expression in MATLAB. An alternative is to use the fact

that we can write an approximate expression for as:

(1

log a

) where T is the period of the EM signal (T=1/f)

log T

In this example a decreases with T (since decreases with depth). Thus the derivative

4

Similarly, if increases with depth, a increases with T. The derivative term will be

4

log a

It can be shown that, 1

1 . Thus 0 <</2

log T

Summary

The magnetotelluric phase is sensitive to changes in resistivity with depth

When resistivity increases with depth, phases are less than

12

D1.4 MT response of multiple layers

Apparent resistivity and phase can be computed with a similar approach to that

used in D1.3 with waves traveling up and down in each layer.

Can derive a recursion relation that allows the impedance at one interface (Zn) to

be derived from the impedance at the interface directly below (Zn+1). This is

covered in Lab 3 in Geophysics 424.

General description of the calculations was first reported by Cagniard (1953). The

basics of the MT method was independently described by Tikhonov (1950), who

also addressed the inverse problem.

Set of apparent resistivity curves for a 3-layer Earth model was described by

Yungul (1961)

13

EXAMPLE 1 : Conductive/resistive layer and halfspace

At short periods (T < 0.01 s) the apparent resistivity equals that of the upper layer

(100 m).

Between periods of T = 0.01 and T = 0.1 s the apparent resistivity increases

slightly. This is a resonance phenomenon that occurs when the skin depth is

approximately equal to the thickness of the layer. It is rarely seen in field MT

data. Note that this is also evident as slight decrease in phase.

At period of T = 0.1 s the apparent resistivity starts to decrease rapidly as the

conductive layer (10 m) is detected by the EM signals.

For the 2 layer model, the apparent resistivity then asymptotes at 10 m at long

periods.

For the 3 layer model the apparent resistivity increases at T > 1 s as the

electromagnetic signals enter the third layer (100 m ) below 2 km depth.

Can you confirm that decreasing apparent resistivity with increasing period

corresponds to > 45 and vice versa?

14

This is identical to the previous example, except that the second layer is a resistor

compared the first layer.

Resonance phenomena is observed again, but in opposite sense.

Can you confirm that decreasing apparent resistivity with increasing period corresponds to

> 45 and vice versa?

Compare a second layer with resistivity contrast of 10 compared to the 1st and 3rd layers.

Effect of second layer is observed at the same period in each case (T = 0.01 s)

Apparent resistivity at long period is same in each case (T ~ 10000 s)

Model with conductive second layer has greater effect on apparent resistivity. This is

because MT signals are strongly attenuated by the conductor and this makes a significant

change at the surface, where the impedance is computed. In contrast, the EM signals travel

through the resistive layer with minimal attenuation. Thus the resistive layer does not

significantly change the surface impedance.

15

EXAMPLE 2 : Varying depth to a conductive layer

As depth to the layer increases, the period at which it is detected increases. This is as

expected from the skin-depth equation. Can you verify that the graphs above are correct

for the 1 km thick layer that that resistivity = 100 m

The magnitude of the response decreases as the layer becomes deeper. This is because the

apparent resistivity represents an average resistivity from the surface to the maximum

depth of exploration.

MT is good at determining the depth of a conductive layer. With typical quality field MT

data (errors of 1-2 % in apparent resistivity), this can be determined within 10%

16

EXAMPLE 3 : Layer of constant conductance

Each model has a layer with conductance 100 Siemens. Thus to maintain constant

conductance, as the layer becomes thinner, the conductivity increases

Once the layer become thin (compared to its depth), the MT curves for different

combinations of thickness and conductivity cannot be distinguished.

This is an example of non-uniqueness. MT cannot separately determine the thickness and

resistivity of the layer. Only the conductance can be determined.

Addition information, such as constraints from other geophysical methods, rock properties

or well logs must be used to overcome this non-uniqueness.

Note that for the surface layer, resistivity and thickness can be individually determined.

The apparent resistivity at the highest frequency will be the true resistivity (provided that

the highest frequency is high enough).

17

EXAMPLE 4 : Two conductive layers

18

Upper layer has a conductance of 100 S, while the lower layer has a variable conductance.

The lower layer can only be detected with MT when its conductance is greater than that

of the upper layer.

19

Examples of this effect from field data

Mareschal et al., (1991) described an MT survey that was designed to image the Grenville

Front in Ontario. This is a major crustal scale, suture zone of Proterozoic age that has

unusual seismic reflections that were thought to be due to fluids. However a shallow

layer of black shale (low resistivity) that was close to the surface in the Phanerozoic

sedimentary section made it impossible to image any conductive features in the

crystalline basement rocks.

Zhang and Pedersen (1991) showed that the presence of a sedimentary basin (low

resistivity) could make it difficult to detect the lower continental crust (also low

resistivity). See also Geophysics 424 Mid-term exam, Question 3, 2010 for a discussion

of this effect.

So far we have only considered the MT forward problem. This involves making

a prediction of the MT data that would be observed over a given (1-D) resistivity

model.

In general, geophysical data analysis requires that we also solve the inverse

problem. This requires that a resistivity model is found that will fit a given MT

dataset.

The inverse problem is non-unique with the non-uniqueness arising from two

distinct issues.

This is due to the physics of the geophysical method. e.g. cannot separately determine

the thickness and conductivity of a conductive layer. No amount of data or expensive

software can overcome this type of non-uniqueness.

(b) Non-uniqueness due to noisy data

With large error bars in the data, a range of resistivity models can be derived that all

fit the measured MT data. This type of non-uniqueness can be reduced through the

collection of higher quality data with smaller error bars.

Parker and Whaler (1981) showed that the conductivity model that would give the best

possible fit to an MT sounding curve would be a set of functions.

20

D1.6 Measuring the misfit between data and a model response

To interpret MT data, we need a quantitative way to measure how well a model response

fits a set of measured MT data.

Consider a simple MT curve with apparent resistivity data defined at three periods as

(1, 2, 3) and shown by the blue circles. A resistivity model has been found that fits the

data and the forward response has been computed as (m1 , m2 , m3) and is plotted as the

red line. This figure was generated with the MATLAB function rms_defm.m

Now consider the misfit function

( 1 m1 ) 2 ( 2 m 2 ) 2 ( 3 m3 ) 2

This provides a measure of the misfit. Note that the squared terms are needed since the

response (m) can be greater or less than the data point (d).

This misfit measure does not allow for the fact that some data points will have larger

uncertainties (error bars) than others. Clearly, we should pay more attention to the points

with smaller error bars. If the three data points have uncertainties of (e1 e2 e3) then the

misfit can be written in terms of the residual

m1

r1 ( 1

)

e1

which is a normalized misfit. In an ideal case the residual should be in the range -1 to +1,

with the model response passing through the error bar.

21

In the example above the data point at T = 10 s has an unacceptable misfit. The other two

data points (with larger error bars) have acceptable misfits.

The misfit equation to be written in terms of residuals as:

(

1 m1

e1

)2 (

2 m2

e2

)2 (

3 m3

e3

)2

It is useful to normalize this equation by the number of points, and take the square root so

for a statistically acceptable fit (within 1 residual), the misfit is 1. This function is the

root-mean-square misfit, usually abbreviated to the r.m.s. misfit , and can be written as:

rms

m 2 2 3 m3 2

1 1 m1 2

) ( 2

) (

)

(

3

e1

e2

e3

rms

1 i N i mi 2

)

(

N i 1

ei

function [misfit,res] = rms(d,err,m,n)

misfit = 0.;

for i = 1:n

res(i) = (d(i)-m(i))/err(i);

misfit = misfit +(res(i))^2;

end

misfit = sqrt(misfit/n);

end

Notes

(1) The figure above illustrates the danger of judging the fit by a single number!

Ideally the residuals should have a Gaussian distribution and not have any system

variation. In the example above, the residuals show a systematic variation with

period.

(2) There are other ways of estimating misfits

Could add some figures generated with MATLAB script rms_plot_v1.m to demonstrate

this and other aspects of data fitting.

22

D1.7

Example 1 : TBT180

This MT station is located in Southern Tibet and data was collected in 1995

Fit data with a trial-and-error approach using the MATLAB code MT1Dfit.m

Details in paper by Wei et al., (2001).

Note that the error bars are plotting as the dashed lines above, and below, the

actual data points.

23

Example 2 : CXB02

Before starting to fit the data, decide what is the minimum number of layers

needed to fit the data.

24

Example 3 : Historical MT data from Central Alberta

Figure 6.27 from Telford shows a number of MT apparent resistivity curves collected in

Central Alberta. Instruments used at the University of Alberta in the 1970s had a limited

bandwith (signal period recorded was in the range 10 to 1000 s). The increasing

resistivity in this period range corresponds to the transition from the sedimentary rocks of

the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (low resistivity) to the crystalline PreCambrian basement rocks (high resistivity).

25

station FH026 near Rocky Mountain

House in October 2002 (Wen Xiao and

Wolfgang Soyer). Data was collected

with the Phoenix V5-2000 system

purchased by the University of Alberta.

An MT sounding made near Rocky Mountain House at station FH025 in 2002 shows the

apparent resistivity curve at shorter period (higher frequency). This is quite close to

Station 1 from Reddy and Rankin (1973) shown above.

The flat section of the apparent resistivity curve (100 0.3 Hz) corresponds to the low

resistivity sedimentary rocks of the WCSB. More details of the survey can be found in

Xiao (2004) and Xiao and Unsworth (2006). The dip in resistivity between 0.3 and 0.1

Hz is likely due to low resistivity in the Cretaceous strata in the deeper part of the basin,

where saline aquifers occur. It is probably not a resonance phenomena (D1.4).

Compare Station 1 and FH025. They both pass through the point 100 m, T = 100 s.

Considering the 30 years between the two measurements, and differences in technology,

this is quite impressive.

Note : Interpretation of MT data from Station FH025 has featured on several mid-term

and final exams in Geophysics 424 in recent years .

26

D1.8 MT impedance tensor for a 1-D Earth

MT station 1

Z xy

Ex

Hy

MT station 2

Z yx

Ey

Hx

E x Z xx

E Z

y yx

Z xy H x

Z yy H y

We can visualize this as the magnetic field (input) being applied to the Earth and

producing an electric field (output) through electromagnetic induction.

In a 1-D case, no electric field is induced parallel to the inducing field, and thus

E x Z xx H x 0 and E y Z yy H y 0

Z xy H x

0 H y

Ex 0

E Z

y yx

Over a 1-D Earth, we will measure the same impedance, regardless of the orientation of

the x and y axes. Thus in the example above we can write that

Z xy Z yx Z

Ex 0

E

y Z

Z H x

0 H y

27

D1.9 References

Cagniard, L., Basic theory of the magnetotelluric method of geophysical prospecting,

Geophysics, 18, 605-635, 1953.

Mareschal M, RD Kurtz, M Chouteau, R Chakridi, A magnetotelluric survey on

Mantoulin Island and Bruce Peninsula along GLIMPCE seismic line J : black shales

mask the Grenville Front, Geophysical Journal International, 105, 173-183, 1991.

Parker RL, KA Whaler, Numerical Methods for Establishing Solutions to the Inverse

Problem of Electromagnetic Induction, Journal of Geophysical Research, 86, 95749584, 1981.

Reddy IK and D Rankin, Magnetotelluric measurements in Central Alberta, Geophysics,

36, 739-753, 1971.

Tikhonov, A. N., Determination of the electrical characteristics of the deep strata of the

Earths crust, Dok. Akad. Nauk., USSR, 73:2, 295-297, 1950.

Wei W, MJ Unsworth, AG Jones, JR Booker, H Tan, KD Nelson, L Chen, S Li, K

Solon, PA Bedrosian, S Jin, M Deng, J Ledo, D Kay, B Roberts, Detection of

widespread fluids in the Tibetan crust by magnetotelluric studies, Science, 292, 716718, 2001

Xiao W, Magnetotelluric exploration in the Rocky Mountain Foothills, MSc thesis,

Department of Physics, University of Alberta, 2004.

Xiao W and MJ Unsworth, Structural imaging in the Rocky Mountain Foothills

(Alberta) using magnetotelluric exploration, AAPG Bulletin, 90, 321-333, 2006.

Yungul, S.H., Magnetotelluric sounding three-layer interpretation curves, Geophysics,

26, 465-473, 1961.

Zhang P and Pedersen LB, Can MT data resolve lower crustal conductors? Physics of the

Earth and Planetary Interiors, 65, 248, 1991.

28