Geological Hypothesis Testing and Investigations of Coupling with Transient Electromagnetics (TEM)

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Andrea C Adams, Ohio State University Main Campus, Columbus, OH, United States, Megan M Moeller, Boise State University, Boise, ID, United States, Emily Snyder, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown, PA, United States, Eli Joseph Workman, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, United States, Scott Urquhart, Zonge Engineering, Tucson, AZ, United States, Paul Bedrosian, USGS Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO, United States and Louise Pellerin, Green Geophysics, Berkeley, CA, United States
Transient electromagnetic (TEM) data were acquired in Borrego Canyon within the Santo Domingo Basin of the Rio Grande Rift, central New Mexico, during the 2014 Summer of Applied Geophysical Experience (SAGE) field program. TEM surveys were carried out in several regions both to investigate geologic structure and to illustrate the effects of coupling to anthropogenic structures.

To determine an optimal survey configuration, 50, 100 and 200 m square transmitter loops were deployed; estimates of depth-of-investigation and logistical considerations determined that 50 m loops were sufficient for production-style measurements. A resistive (100s of ohm-m) layer was identified at a depth of 25-75 m at several locations, and interpreted as dismembered parts of one or more concealed volcanic flows, an interpretation consistent with Tertiary volcanic flows that cap the Santa Anna Mesa immediately to the south. TEM soundings were also made across an inferred fault to investigate whether fault offset is accompanied by lateral changes in electrical resistivity. Soundings within several hundred meters of the inferred fault strand were identical, indicating no resistivity contrast across the fault, and possibly an absence of recent activity.

An old windmill and water tank, long-abandoned, offered an excellent laboratory to study the effect of coupling to metallic anthropogenic structures. The character of the measured data strongly suggests the water tank is in electrical contact with the earth (galvanic coupling), and an induced response was persistent to more than 1 second after current turn-off. Coupling effects could be identified at least 150 meters from the tank. Understanding the mechanism behind such coupling and the ability to identify coupled data are critical skills, as one-dimensional modeling of data is affected by such coupling producing artificial conductive layers at depth.