A parallel, scalable and memory efficient inversion code for very large-scale airborne electromagnetics surveys

Casper Kirkegaard, Esben Auken

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review

26 Citationer (Scopus)


Over the past decade the typical size of airborne electromagnetic data sets has been growing rapidly, along with an emerging need for highly accurate modelling. One-dimensional approximate inversions or data transform techniques have previously been employed for very large-scale studies of quasi-layered settings but these techniques fail to provide the consistent accuracy needed by many modern applications such as aquifer and geological mapping, uranium exploration, oil sands and integrated modelling. In these cases the use of more time-consuming 1D forward and inverse modelling provide the only acceptable solution that is also computationally feasible. When target structures are known to be quasi layered and spatially coherent it is beneficial to incorporate this assumption directly into the inversion. This implies inverting multiple soundings at a time in larger constrained problems, which allows for resolving geological layers that are undetectable using simple independent inversions. Ideally, entire surveys should be inverted at a time in huge constrained problems but poor scaling properties of the underlying algorithms typically make this challenging. Here, we document how we optimized an inversion code for very large-scale constrained airborne electromagnetic problems. Most importantly, we describe how we solve linear systems using an iterative method that scales linearly with the size of the data set in terms of both solution time and memory consumption. We also describe how we parallelized the core region of the code, in order to obtain almost ideal strong parallel scaling on current 4-socket shared memory computers. We further show how model parameter uncertainty estimates can be efficiently obtained in linear time and we demonstrate the capabilities of the full implementation by inverting a 3327 line km SkyTEM survey overnight. Performance and scaling properties are discussed based on the timings of the field example and we describe the criteria that must be fulfilled in order to adapt our methodology for similar type problems.

Sider (fra-til)495-507
Antal sider13
TidsskriftGeophysical Prospecting
Udgave nummer2
StatusUdgivet - 1 mar. 2015
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Programområde 2: Vandressourcer


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