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Comparison of methods for estimating earth resistivity from airborne electromagnetic measurements

Publisher –
Elsevier, 2000. Journal of Applied Geophysics 45 (2000) 239-259

Authors –
Les P. Beard*, Geological Survey of Norway, Leiv Eirikssons vei 39 N-7491 Trondheim, Norway

Paper – [pdf] Comparison_of_AEM_inversion_methods_JAG_LPB_2000

Earth resistivity estimates from frequency domain airborne electromagnetic data can vary over more than two orders of magnitude depending on the half-space estimation method used. Lookup tables are fast methods for estimating half-space resistivities, and can be based on in-phase and quadrature measurements for a specified frequency, or on quadrature and sensor height. Inverse methods are slower, but allow sensor height to be incorporated more directly. Extreme topographic relief can affect estimates from each of the methods, particularly if the portion of the line over the topographic feature is not at a constant height above ground level. Quadrature–sensor height lookup table estimates are generally too low over narrow valleys. The other methods are also affected, but behave less predictably. Over very good conductors, quadrature–sensor height tables can yield
resistivity estimates that are too high. In-phase–quadrature tables and inverse methods yield resistivity estimates that are too high when the earth has high magnetic susceptibility, whereas quadrature–sensor height methods are unaffected. However, it is possible to incorporate magnetic susceptibility into the in-phase–quadrature lookup table. In-phase–quadrature lookup tables can give different results according to whether the tables are ordered according to the in-phase component or the quadrature component. The rules for handling negative in-phase measurements are particularly critical. Although resistivity maps produced from the different methods tend to be similar, details can vary considerably, calling into question the ability to make detailed interpretations based on half-space models.