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Wang, SG, Bastani M, Constable S, Kalscheuer T, Malehmir A.  2019.  Boat-towed radio-magnetotelluric and controlled source audio-magnetotelluric study to resolve fracture zones at Aspo Hard Rock Laboratory site, Sweden. Geophysical Journal International. 218:1008-1031.   10.1093/gji/ggz162   AbstractWebsite

Boat-towed radio-magnetotelluric (RMT) measurements using signals between 14 and 250 kHz have attracted increasing attention in the near-surface applications for shallow water and archipelago areas. A few large-scale underground infrastructure projects, such as the Stockholm bypass in Sweden, are planned to pass underneath such water zones. However, in cases with high water salinity, RMT signals have a penetration depth of a few metres and do not reach the geological structures of interest in the underlying sediments and bedrock. To overcome this problem, controlled source signals at lower frequencies of 1.25 to 12.5 kHz can be utilized to improve the penetration depth and to enhance the resolution for modelling deeper underwater structures. Joint utilization of boat-towed RMT and controlled source audio-magnetotellurics (CSAMT) was tested for the first time at the Aspo Hard Rock Laboratory (HRL) site in south-eastern Sweden to demonstrate acquisition efficiency and improved resolution to model fracture zones along a 600-m long profile. Pronounced galvanic distortion effects observed in 1-D inversion models of the CSAMT data as well as the predominantly 2-D geological structures at this site motivated usage of 2-D inversion. Two standard academic inversion codes, EMILIA and MARE2DEM, were used to invert the RMT and CSAMT data. EMILIA, an object-oriented Gauss-Newton inversion code with modules for 2-D finite difference and 1-D semi-analytical solutions, was used to invert the RMT and CSAMT data separately and jointly under the plane-wave approximation for 2-D models. MARE2DEM, a Gauss-Newton inversion code for controlled source electromagnetic 2.5-D finite element solution, was modified to allow for inversions of RMT and CSAMT data accounting for source effects. Results of EMILIA and MARE2DEM reveal the previously known fracture zones in the models. The 2-D joint inversions of RMT and CSAMT data carried out with EMILIA and MARE2DEM show clear improvement compared with 2-D single inversions, especially in imaging uncertain fracture zones analysed in a previous study. Our results show that boat-towed RMT and CSAMT data acquisition systems can be utilized for detailed 2-D or 3-D surveys to characterize near-surface structures underneath shallow water areas. Potential future applications may include geo-engineering, geohazard investigations and mineral exploration.

Harmon, N, Rychert C, Agius M, Tharimena S, Le Bas T, Kendall JM, Constable S.  2018.  Marine geophysical investigation of the chain fracture zone in the equatorial Atlantic from the PI-LAB experiment. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 123:11016-11030.   10.1029/2018jb015982   AbstractWebsite

The Chain Fracture Zone is a 300-km-long transform fault that offsets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We analyzed new multibeam bathymetry, backscatter, gravity, and magnetic data with 100% multibeam bathymetric data over the active transform valley and adjacent spreading segments as part of the Passive Imaging of the Lithosphere Asthenosphere Boundary (PI-LAB) Experiment. Analyses of these data sets allow us to determine the history and mode of crustal formation and the tectonic evolution of the transform system and adjacent ridges over the past 20Myr. We model the total field magnetic anomaly to determine the age of the crust along the northern ridge segment to better establish the timing of the variations in the seafloor fabric and the tectonic-magmatic history of the region. Within the active transform fault zone, we observe four distinct positive flower structures with several en echelon fault scarps visible in the backscatter data. We find up to -10mGal residual Mantle Bouguer Anomaly in the region of the largest positive flower structure within the transform zone suggesting crustal thickening relative to the crustal thinning typically observed in fracture zones in the Atlantic. The extensional/compressional features observed in the Chain Transform are less pronounced than those observed further north in the Vema, St. Paul, and Romanche and may be due to local ridge segment adjustments.

Constable, S, Kowalczyk P, Bloomer S.  2018.  Measuring marine self-potential using an autonomous underwater vehicle. Geophysical Journal International. 215:49-60.   10.1093/gji/ggy263   AbstractWebsite

The marine self-potential (SP) method is used to explore for hydrothermal venting and associated seafloor mineralization. Measurements are commonly made in deep water using instruments towed close to the seafloor, which requires dedicated ship time, is limited to slow speeds, and is subject to navigation errors. Instead, we mounted a three-axis electric field receiver on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), and tested the method with data collected in the Iheya area of the Okinawa Trough, off Japan. Parts of this prospect have documented hydrothermal venting and seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits. An International Submarine Engineering Limited explorer-class AUV was fitted with a controlled-source electromagnetic (CSEM) amplifier and logging system, modified to collect DC SP data using silver chloride electrodes on approximately 1 m dipoles. A 1 km x 1 km area was surveyed with a flight pattern of six lines, collected three times to assess repeatability and noise levels. The entire data set was collected in a single day on station with a 10 hr AUV deployment. Flying height was 70 m, navigation errors were less than 3 m, collection speed was 1.1 m s(-1) and electric field noise levels were less than 5 mu V m(-1). Localized anomalies of 0.3 mV m(-1) were observed, from which potentials were estimated using regularized inversion, yielding negative SP anomalies of 15-25 mV. Modelling electric field data as dipoles shows that the negative poles causing the anomalies are localized near the seafloor with a diffuse return current deeper than 1000 m below seafloor. Apparent conductivities as high as 30 S m(-1) were derived from CSEM data collected during the same deployment, which strongly suggests that SMS mineralization is associated with one of the SP anomalies, although the localization near the seafloor and the lack of a dipolar signal suggest that the causative mechanism for the SP anomalies is due to hydrothermal venting. In either case, we have demonstrated that AUV-mounted instrument systems are an efficient, effective and low noise means of collecting marine SP data.

Sherman, D, Constable SC.  2018.  Permafrost extent on the Alaskan Beaufort shelf from surface-towed controlled-source electromagnetic surveys. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 123:7253-7265.   10.1029/2018jb015859   AbstractWebsite

We have developed a surface-towed electric dipole-dipole system capable of operating in shallow water and deployable from small vessels. Our system uses electromagnetic energy from a modulated manmade source to interrogate the underlying resistivity structure of the seafloor. We used this system in the summers of 2014 and 2015 to map subsea ice-bearing permafrost on the Beaufort shelf along 200km of coastline, from Tigvariak Island to Harrison Bay. Permafrost is resistive and was found to be anisotropic, likely due to interbedded layers of frozen and unfrozen sediment. Maps of depth to permafrost and its thickness were produced from electrical resistivity inversions and results compared to borehole logs in the area. We observed elevated resistivity values offshore the Sagavanirktok River outflow, supporting the idea that fresh groundwater flow has a preserving effect on submerged permafrost. This system provides a cost effective method that could be used to further quantify permafrost extent, provide a baseline for measurements of future degradation, and provide observational constraints to aid in permafrost modeling studies.

Barak, O, Key K, Constable S, Ronen S.  2018.  Recording active-seismic ground rotations using induction-coil magnetometers. Geophysics. 83:P19-P42.   10.1190/geo2017-0281.1   AbstractWebsite

Most of the current rotational sensing technology is not geared toward the recording of seismic rotations' amplitudes and frequencies. There are few instruments that are designed for rotational seismology, and the technology for building them is currently being developed. There are no mass industrial producers of seismic rotation sensors as there are for geophones, and only one current sensor model can be deployed on the ocean bottom. We reviewed some current rotational-seismic acquisition technologies, and developed a new method of recording rotations using an existing, robust and field-deployable technology that had seen extensive use in large exploration surveys: induction-coil magnetometers. We conducted an active seismic experiment, in which we found that magnetometers could be used to record seismic rotations. We converted the magnetometer data to rotation-rate data, and validated them by comparing the waveforms and amplitudes with rotation rates recorded by electrokinetic rotation sensors.