A study of the influence of conductive paths and their directions in randomly generated conductor network.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Eric Mandolesi, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Dublin, Ireland, Max Moorkamp, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1, United Kingdom and Alan G. Jones, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Geophysics Section, Dublin, Ireland
Most electromagnetic (EM) geophysical methods focus on the electrical conductivity of rocks and sediments to determine the geological structure of the subsurface. Electric conductivity itself is measured in the laboratory with a wide range of instruments and techniques. These measurements seldom return a compatible result.

The presence of partially-interconnected random pathways of electrically conductive materials in resistive hosts has been studied for decades, and recently with increasing interest. To comprehend which conductive mechanism scales from the microstructures up to field electrical conductivity measurements, two main branch of studies have been undertaken: statistical probability of having a conductive pathways and mixing laws.

Several numerical approaches have been tested to understand the effects of interconnected pathways of conductors at field scale. Usually these studies were restricted in two ways: the sources are considered constant in time (i.e., DC) and the domain is, with few exception, two-dimensional. We simulated the effects of time-varying EM sources on the conductivity measured on the surface of a three-dimensional randomly generated body embedded in an uniform host by using electromagnetic induction equations.

We modelled a two-phase mixture of resistive and conductive elements with the goal of comparing the conductivity measured on field scale with the one proper of the elements constituting the random rock, and to test how the internal structures influence the directionality of the responses. Moreover, we modelled data from randomly generated bodies characterized by coherent internal structures, to check the effect of the named structures on the anisotropy of the effective conductivity.

We compared these values with the electrical conductivity limits predicted by Hashin-Shtrikman bounds and the effective conductivity predicted by the Archie’s law, both cast in its classic form and in an updated that allow to take in account two materials. The same analysis was done for both the resistive and the conductive conductivity values for the anisotropic case.