A comparison of helicopter-borne electromagnetics in frequency- and time-domain at the Cuxhaven valley in Northern Germany

Annika Steuer, Bernhard Siemon, Esben Auken

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review

76 Citationer (Scopus)


Two different airborne electromagnetic methods were applied in the same area: the frequency-domain helicopter-borne electromagnetic (HEM) system operated by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Germany, and the time-domain SkyTEM system of the HydroGeophysics Group at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. For verification of and comparison with the airborne methods, ground-based transient electromagnetics and 2-D resistivity surveying were carried out. The target of investigation was the Cuxhaven valley in Northern Germany, which is a significant local groundwater reservoir. The course of this buried valley was revealed by drillings and the shape was determined by reflection seismics at several cross sections. We applied electrical and electromagnetic methods to investigate the structure of the valley filling consisting of gravel, sand, silt and clay. The HEM survey clearly outlines a shallow conductor at about 20m depth and a deeper conductor below 40m depth inside the valley. This is confirmed by 2-D resistivity surveying and a drilling. The thickness of the deeper conductor, however, is not revealed due to the limited investigation depth of the HEM system. The SkyTEM survey does not resolve the shallow conductor, but it outlines the thickness of the deeper clay layer inside the valley and reveals a conductive layer at about 180m depth outside the valley. The SkyTEM results are very consistent with ground-based transient electromagnetic soundings. Airborne electromagnetic surveying in general has the advantage of fast resistivity mapping with high lateral resolution. The HEM system is cost-efficient and fast, but the more expensive and slower SkyTEM system provides a higher depth of investigation. Ground-based geophysical surveys are often more accurate, but they are definitively slower than airborne surveys. It depends on targets of interest, time, budget, and manpower available by which a method or combination of methods will be chosen. A combination of different methods is useful to obtain a detailed understanding of the subsurface resistivity distribution.

Sider (fra-til)194-205
Antal sider12
TidsskriftJournal of Applied Geophysics
Udgave nummer3
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2009
Udgivet eksterntJa


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