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Coil response inversion for very early time modelling of helicopter-borne time-domain electromagnetic data and mapping of near-surface geological layers

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Very early times in the order of 2-3 μs from the end of the turn-off ramp for time-domain electromagnetic systems are crucial for obtaining a detailed resolution of the near-surface geology in the depth interval 0-20 m. For transient electromagnetic systems working in the off time, an electric current is abruptly turned off in a large transmitter loop causing a secondary electromagnetic field to be generated by the eddy currents induced in the ground. Often, however, there is still a residual primary field generated by remaining slowly decaying currents in the transmitter loop. The decay disturbs or biases the earth response data at the very early times. These biased data must be culled, or some specific processing must be applied in order to compensate or remove the residual primary field. As the bias response can be attributed to decaying currents with its time constantly controlled by the geometry of the transmitter loop, we denote it the 'Coil Response'. The modelling of a helicopter-borne time-domain system by an equivalent electronic circuit shows that the time decay of the coil response remains identical whatever the position of the receiver loop, which is confirmed by field measurements. The modelling also shows that the coil response has a theoretical zero location and positioning the receiver coil at the zero location eliminates the coil response completely. However, spatial variations of the coil response around the zero location are not insignificant and even a few cm deformation of the carrier frame will introduce a small coil response. Here we present an approach for subtracting the coil response from the data by measuring it at high altitudes and then including an extra shift factor into the inversion scheme. The scheme is successfully applied to data from the SkyTEM system and enables the use of very early time gates, as early as 2-3 μs from the end of the ramp, or 5-6 μs from the beginning of the ramp. Applied to a large-scale airborne electromagnetic survey, the coil response compensation provides airborne electromagnetic methods with a hitherto unseen good resolution of shallow geological layers in the depth interval 0-20 m. This is proved by comparing results from the airborne electromagnetic survey to more than 100 km of Electrical Resistivity Tomography measured with 5 m electrode spacing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Prospecting
Pages (from-to)658-674
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Research areas

  • Early times, Near-surface, Transient airborne

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