A survey of current trends in near-surface electrical and electromagnetic methods

Esben Auken, Louise Pellerin, Niels B. Christensen, Kurt Sørensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


Electrical and electromagnetic (E&EM) methods for near-surface investigations have undergone rapid improvements over the past few decades. Besides the traditional applications in groundwater investigations, natural-resource exploration, and geological mapping, a number of new applications have appeared. These include hazardous-waste characterization studies, precision-agriculture applications, archeological surveys, and geotechnical investigations. The inclu-sion of microprocessors in survey instruments, development of new interpretation algorithms, and easy access to powerful computers have supported innovation throughout the geophysical community and the E&EM community is no exception. Most notable are development of continuous-measurement systems that generate large, dense data sets efficiently. These have contributed significantly to the usefulness of E&EM methods by allowing measurements over wide areas without sacrificing lateral resolution. The availability of these luxuriant data sets in turn spurred development of interpretation algorithms, including: Laterally constrained 1D inversion as well as innovative 2D- and 3D-inversion methods. Taken together, these developments can be expected to improve the resolution and usefulness of E&EM methods and permit them to be applied economically. The trend is clearly toward dense surveying over larger areas, followed by highly automated, post-acquisition processing and interpretation to provide improved resolution of the shallow subsurface in a cost-effective manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G249-G260
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Geomagnetism
  • Geophysical techniques
  • Reviews
  • Terrestrial electricity

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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