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Faradilla Soraya bt Dzulkarnain P-ZM0249/11





In order to clearly understand the various kinds of electromagnetic methods and systems commonly used in geophysical exploration, we shall highlight some basic concepts and definitions.

Magnetic Field Electromagnetic waves Electromagnetism Polarisation Depth of penetration (Skin depth)

An electromagnetic wave consist of an electric field component (E) orthogonal to a magnetic field component (B), in a plane perpendicular to the direction of travel. An electromagnetic field can be generated by passing an alternating current through either a small coil comprising of many turns of wire or a large loop of wire.


The term electromagnetism is defined as the production of a magnetic field by current flowing in a conductor. Coiling a current-carrying conductor around a core material that can be easily magnetized, such as iron, can form an electromagnet. The magnetic field will be concentrated in the core. This arrangement is called a solenoid. The more turns we wrap on this core, the stronger the electromagnet and the stronger the magnetic lines of force become.

We have now seen that if electrical current is flowing in a conductor, there is an associated magnetic field created around the wire. In a similar manner, if we move a wire inside a magnetic field there will be an electrical current that will be generated in the wire. This is described as the Faradays law.

EM field generates by passing an AC through a wire coil ( transmitter) The primary EM field will propagates above and below ground. If there is a conductive material in the ground, magnetic component of the EM wave induces an eddy currents (AC) in conductor. The eddy currents produce a secondary EM field which is detected by the receiver. The receiver also detects the primary field where the resultant field is a combination of primary and secondary which differs from the primary field in phase and amplitude. After compensating for the primary field (which can be computed from the relative positions and orientations of the coils), both the magnitude and relative phase of the secondary field can be measured. The difference in the resultant field from the primary provides information about the geometry, size and electrical properties of the subsurface conductor.

Secondary field can be converted to components in-phase and 90out of phase with the transmitted field. The out-of-phase (or quadrature-phase) component, using certain simplifying assumptions, can be converted to a measure of apparent ground conductivity. The in-phase component, while generally not responsive to changes in bulk conductivity, is especially responsive to discrete, highlyconductive bodies such as metal objects.

If we consider the primary EM field P as a vector and the secondary EM field S as another vector, their resultant R will also be a vector making an angle with P. In most surveys, it is the angle this resultant makes with the horizontal, that is measured. Since R varies continuously in magnitude and direction, as a vector, its tip describes an ellipse known as the ellipse of polarisation which also makes an angle (called the tilt angle) with the horizontal.

Depth of penetration (Skin depth)

This involves the extent in depth to which an electromagnetic radiation may penetrate the Earth surface. The depth of penetration largely depends on the frequency of the wave and the conductivity of the media present through which the EM radiation is to travel. The Skin depth is defined (Sheriff 1991) as the depth at which the amplitude of a plane wave has decreased to 1/e or 37% relative to its initial amplitude A0. It is not the maximum depth of penetration of the magnetic field. Mathematically, the skin depth (in metres) is given as above formula. where w = 2f and f is the frequency in Hz, is the conductivity of the media in S/m., and is the magnetic permeability (usually 1). Equation above shows that the depth of penetration decreases with a decrease in resistivity and an increase in frequency.

The electromagnetic method, otherwise known as the EM method measures the response of an induced alternating current into the ground. It can further be divided into Frequency domain electromagnetic method (FDEM), Very low frequency (VLF) method which measures perturbations in the magnetic field of radio waves, Time-domain EM (TDEM), Airborne EM survey, Controlled Source Electromagnetic (CSEM) , Telluric and Magneto-telluric methods. Of the above, the most common are the TDEM and FDEM methods.

Time-domain (TDEM) Measurements as a function of time This active method involves inducing eddy currents within subsurface conductors using pulsed electromagnetic (EM) energy transmitted from a square loop of wire located on the ground. The decaying secondary EM signal induced by these eddy currents is measured over a series of time windows immediately after the transmitted signal is shut-off using the transmitter loop, or more commonly, a smaller second receiver coil located at the centre or to the side of the transmitter loop. TDEM soundings are capable of providing information on the conductivity of different layers within the subsurface to depths of between 3-1000m. Frequency-domain (FDEM) Measurements at one or more frequencies Transmitter produces continuous EM field, secondary field is determined by cancelling the primary field ( need two coils)

Due to the principle of induction, the EM methods could either be ground-based (where either or both transmitter and receiver are on ground), airborne (either or both transmitter and receiver are in air), seaborne (either or both transmitter and receiver are on sea), or borehole-based in which both the transmitter and receiver are placed in a hole dug in the Earth.

Lightweight & easily portable. Measurement collected rapidly with a min of field personnel Accurate Good for groundwater pollution investigations. FDEM &TDEM systems may be used in many different configurations. A pulsed transmitter waveform allows the receiver to measure the electromagnetic response during the transmitter off-time without the presence of the primary field. No direct electrical contact with the ground is required so that surveys can be equally effective in frozen environments. The same basic techniques can be used to investigate the top few meters of ground or to depths over 1000 meters. Generally fast and cost effective for the amount of data generated.

Do not work well for high resistive region. Susceptible to interference from nearby metal pipes, cables, fences, vehicles and induced noise from power lines. Not effective for very shallow measurements. Fixed depth of investigation depending on frequency used and Tx-Rx separation. According to Parasnis 1962, one of the troublesome effects in the electromagnetic methods is that the secondary currents in superficial layers of good conductivity, e.g. clays, graphitic shales etc. may screen the deeper conductors partially or wholly from the primary field. The latter which are the real objects of exploration will then produce weak or no distortions (anomalies) in the primary field and may therefore be undetectable. The frequency dependence of depth penetration also places constraints on the EM method. Penetration is not very great, being limited by the frequency range that can be generated and detected. The quantitative interpretation of electromagnetic anomalies is complex.

The signal at the Receiver depends on : Material Shape Depth of the Target -coil spacing -operating frequency of the instrument Design and positions of the transmitter and receiver coils -orientation

Current induced in the target by the transmitter depends on Number of lines of magnetic field through the Loop (magnetic flux) Rate of change of this number The material of the loop.

Magnetic flux Depends on : The Strength of the magnetic field at the Loop if a stronger current is made to flow through the conductor, the magnetic lines of force become stronger. the strength of the magnetic field is directly proportional to the current that flows through the conductor. Area of the Loop Angle of the loop to the field Flux, = Magnetic field x Cos x area x number of turns

Mineralogy Clays more conductive (relates to CEC) Moisture content Porosity EC of the subsurface water Stratigraphy Structure Temporal Changes in soil EC due to soil moisture change, water table changes, soils are frozen ( Low EC), soil temperature changes (lowers EC of soil water). Adding or subtracting soluble constituents (contaminants) source strength variations and directions of ground water flow.

Applications of EM methods (either TDEM or FDEM) are very wide, however a few will be highlighted. location and exploration of orebodies or metalliferous mineral deposits, and oil reservoirs (CSEM) groundwater investigations (FDEM for near-surface mapping investigations and TDEM for deeper investigations) EM methods are mainly used in the follow-up ground surveys (such as resistivity survey) which provide more precise information on the target area detection of underground cavities (TDEM) and location of frozen ground (FDEM) contaminated-land mapping, landfill investigations (FDEM), contaminant plume mapping (TDEM), mapping subsurface voids (TDEM)