Marine Electromagnetic Methods – Present and Future

Srnka, L, Constable S.  2018.  Marine Electromagnetic Methods – Present and Future. Geophys. Soc. Houston J.. 8

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Since industry began funding marine electromagnetic (EM) methods in the 1980s, tremendous progress has been made in applying these methods not only to hydrocarbon exploration but also to a wide range of applications. After more than two decades of excitement and investment, many successes and some failures, marine EM use has now greatly diminished due to a combination of factors, including resolution and depth limitations, imaging uncertainties, perceived high costs, difficulties in business integration, and the recent down cycle in hydrocarbon markets. Fortunately, acquisition costs are declining due to the arrival of continuously towed systems, subsurface depths of investigation are increasing, and cooperative seismic-EM inversions are beginning to produce better estimates of lithologies and fluids, including for marine hydrates. Enabled by the technical progress made in deep water for hydrocarbon use, offshore EM is expanding to other applications. Virtually any EM onshore application is now a candidate for the offshore. These include permafrost, geothermal, minerals, contaminant mapping, and groundwater investigations. Offshore EM methods are now firmly installed in the geophysical toolkit, and their uses will grow.