A practical, low-noise coil system for magnetotellurics

Open-File Report 83-85




Magnetotellurics is a geophysical technique which was developed by Cagnaird (1953) and Tikhonov (1950) and later refined by other scientists worldwide. The technique is a method of electromagnetic sounding of the Earth and is based upon the skin depth effect in conductive media. The electric and magnetic fields arising from natural sources are measured at the surface of the earth over broad frequency bands. An excellent review of the technique is provided in the paper by Vozoff (1972). The sources of the natural fields are found in two basic mechanisms. At frequencies above a few hertz, most of the energy arises from lightning in thunderstorm belts around the equatorial regions. This energy is propagated in a wave-guide formed by the earthionospheric cavity. Energy levels are higher at fundamental modes for this cavity, but sufficient energy exists over most of the audio range to be useful for sounding at these frequencies, in which case the technique is generally referred to as audio-magnetotellurics or AMT. At frequencies lower than audio, and in general below 1 Hz, the source of naturally occuring electromagnetic energy is found in ionospheric currents. Current systems flowing in the ionosphere generate EM waves which can be used in sounding of the earth. These fields generate a relatively complete spectrum of electromagnetic energy that extends from around 1 Hz to periods of one day. Figure 1 shows an amplitude spectrum characteristic of both the ionospheric and lightning sources, covering a frequency range from 0.0001 Hz to 1000 Hz. It can be seen that there is a minimum in signal levels that occurs at about 1 Hz, in the gap between the two sources, and that signal level increases with a decrease in frequency.

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A practical, low-noise coil system for magnetotellurics
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
36 p.
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