An efficient hybrid scheme for fast and accurate inversion of airborne transient electromagnetic data

Anders Vest Christiansen, Esben Auken, Casper Kirkegaard, Cyril Schamper, Giulio Vignoli

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Airborne transient electromagnetic (TEM) methods target a range of applications that all rely on analysis of extremely large datasets, but with widely varying requirements with regard to accuracy and computing time. Certain applications have larger intrinsic tolerances with regard to modelling inaccuracy, and there can be varying degrees of tolerance throughout different phases of interpretation. It is thus desirable to be able to tune a custom balance between accuracy and compute time when modelling of airborne datasets. This balance, however, is not necessarily easy to obtain in practice. Typically, a significant reduction in computational time can only be obtained by moving to a much simpler physical description of the system, e.g. by employing a simpler forward model. This will often lead to a significant loss of accuracy, without an indication of computational precision. We demonstrate a tuneable method for significantly speeding up inversion of airborne TEM data with little to no loss of modelling accuracy. Our approach introduces an approximation only in the calculation of the partial derivatives used for minimising the objective function, rather than in the evaluation of the objective function itself. This methodological difference is important, as it introduces no further approximation in the physical description of the system, but only in the process of iteratively guiding the inversion algorithm towards the solution. By means of a synthetic study, we demonstrate how our new hybrid approach provides inversion speed-up factors ranging from ∼3 to 7, depending on the degree of approximation. We conclude that the results are near identical in both model and data space. A field case confirms the conclusions from the synthetic examples: that there is very little difference between the full nonlinear solution and the hybrid versions, whereas an inversion with approximate derivatives and an approximate forward mapping differs significantly from the other results.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)323-330
    Number of pages8
    JournalExploration Geophysics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


    • AEM
    • approximate Jacobian
    • hybrid minimisation
    • large dataset inversion

    Programme Area

    • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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