Estimation of soil salinity by using Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulation for multi-configuration electromagnetic induction measurements

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Khan Z Jadoon1, Muhammad Umer Altaf1,2, Matthew F McCabe1, Ibrahim Hoteit2 and Davood Moghadas3, (1)King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Water Desalination and Reuse Center, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, (2)King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Department of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, (3)Fed. Inst. for Geosc. and nat. Resources, Hannover, Germany
In arid and semi-arid regions, soil salinity has a major impact on agro-ecosystems, agricultural productivity, environment and sustainability. High levels of soil salinity adversely affect plant growth and productivity, soil and water quality, and may eventually result in soil erosion and land degradation. Being essentially a hazard, it’s important to monitor and map soil salinity at an early stage to effectively use soil resources and maintain soil salinity level below the salt tolerance of crops. In this respect, low frequency electromagnetic induction (EMI) systems can be used as a noninvasive method to map the distribution of soil salinity at the field scale and at a high spatial resolution.

In this contribution, an EMI system (the CMD Mini-Explorer) is used to estimate soil salinity using a Bayesian approach implemented via a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling for inversion of multi-configuration EMI measurements. In-situ and EMI measurements were conducted across a farm where Acacia trees are irrigated with brackish water using a drip irrigation system. The electromagnetic forward model is based on the full solution of Maxwell's equation, and the subsurface is considered as a three-layer problem. In total, five parameters (electrical conductivity of three layers and thickness of top two layers) were inverted and modeled electrical conductivities were converted into the universal standard of soil salinity measurement (i.e. using the method of electrical conductivity of a saturated soil paste extract). Simulation results demonstrate that the proposed scheme successfully recovers soil salinity and reduces the uncertainties in the prior estimate. Analysis of the resulting posterior distribution of parameters indicates that electrical conductivity of the top two layers and the thickness of the first layer are well constrained by the EMI measurements. The proposed approach allows for quantitative mapping and monitoring of the spatial electrical conductivity variations and can be utilized for the management of soil salinity.