M-T Biliography

High Resolution Magnetotellurics


An exploration system has been developed by DMT that significantly improves magnetotelluric technology in exploration for hydrocarbons, and other important aspects of subsurface imaging. The system uses natural electromagnetic energy as its source. Many experts say that this source is "many orders of magnitude greater than the strengths of fields that can be generated with man-made sources on the surface of the earth." The technique varies from classical thinking by analyzing the higher frequency harmonics of the recognized lower frequency carrier waves which propagate within the earth. The result of this departure from the recognized operating frequencies is a significant improvement in the resolving power of the instrumentation, allowing vertical subsurface sampling as small as 3’ at 5,000’ depths with depth accuracies of +/- 25’ in most areas.

A High quality geophysical antenna system records a wide-band signal in the field for both the magnetic and electric components of the electromagnetic field. These time domain signals are properly filtered, sampled, and stored to digital tape. These digital signals which contain information for all depths are demodulated by analog or digital computer to final form for analysis. The recorded signal contains phase vs. amplitude information relating to the incoming field at the surface, the decaying earth carrier field, and the modulation resulting from the earth’s resistivity reflection coefficients. The former two fields are removed during demodulation process. Only the earth’s resistivity profile remains as a function of frequencies. A derivative of the well known “skin depth” equation is used to convert from frequency to depth. The result of this complicated process is a series of electric and magnetic reflection coefficients. These can then be combined to form the apparent resistivity series defined by Z = E/H as a function of depth.

These systems yield valuable information on the porosity zones in the subsurface. Since electromagnetic energy seeks the least interrupted travel path, the amount of connate or bound subsurface waters dramatically effect the apparent resistivity. The more the porosity, the more bound water, and the lower the apparent resistivity curve, yielding an excellent set of data for point-to-point correlation as well as diagnostic information about available subsurface porosity zones. The reflection amplitudes of magnetic and electric signals react differently to hydrocarbon and water. These differences are readily apparent when the two reflection coefficient profiles are cross-plotted and this display becomes an aid in the estimation of the hydrocarbon potential of surveyed intervals in the subsurface. In addition, the presence of hydrocarbons in the subsurface impedes the transmission of electromagnetic energy which appears as a unique phase distortion in the modulation of the carrier waves, visually apparent in the digital modulation trace of the DIGILOG, and detectable by analog analysis with the Z-SCAN.

All of the above processes are combined in visual displays similar to standard electric log format. The digital computer outputs an apparent resistivity log, cross-plotted with both the magnetic and electric sequences. In addition, a fourth curve showing the modulation pattern of the data is also included. Within the Z-SCAN system, a graph is made of apparent resistivity changes vs. depth with reservoir fluid estimates of oil, gas, and water. Whether the DIGILOG or Z-SCAN systems are used for point-to-point correlation or for detailed fluid analysis, they are an excellent addition to your remote sensing arsenal(Using Z-SCAN and Digilog) .


The key to DIGILOG OR Z-SCAN interpretation is the ability to anchor correlation using distinctive packages in concordance with consistent markers which give a characteristic response. In general, analyses of thicker sections will enhance correlatability, excepting inclusion of highly stratigraphically variable sections or sections with very thin beds which introduce sampling bias or aliasing. The Z-SCAN logs are easily integrated into the interpretive process whether analyzing oil and gas exploration risk, a horizontal laterals economic potential, or the volume and integrity of underground leached caverns. Many forms of remote sensing data blend well with the High Resolution Magnetotelluric data including seismic, surface geochem and windowed radiometrics (Using Remote Sensing Data to Find and Illustrate an Oil and Gas Prospect).

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