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Technical note: Efficient imaging of hydrological units below lakes and fjords with a floating, transient electromagnetic (FloaTEM) system

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Imaging geological layers beneath lakes, rivers, and shallow seawater provides detailed information critical for hydrological modeling, geologic studies, contaminant mapping, and more. However, significant engineering and interpretation challenges have limited the applications, preventing widespread adoption in aquatic environments. We have developed a towed transient electromagnetic (tTEM) system for a new, easily configurable floating, transient electromagnetic instrument (FloaTEM) capable of imaging the subsurface beneath both freshwater and saltwater. Based on the terrestrial tTEM instrument, the FloaTEM system utilizes a similar philosophy of a lightweight towed transmitter with a trailing offset receiver pulled by a small boat. The FloaTEM system is tailored to the specific freshwater or saltwater application as necessary, allowing investigations down to 100 m in freshwater environments and up to 20 m on saline waters. Through synthetic analysis, we show how the depth of investigation of the FloaTEM system greatly depends on the resistivity and thickness of the water column. The system has been successfully deployed in Denmark for a variety of hydrologic investigations, improving the ability to understand and model processes beneath water bodies. We present two freshwater applications and a saltwater application. Imaging results reveal significant heterogeneities in the sediment types below the freshwater lakes. The saline water example demonstrates that the system is capable of identifying and distinguishing clay and sand layers below the saline water column.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Pages (from-to)2813-2827
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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