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Chapter 6

Electromagnetic Methods
EM methods use time-varying magnetic elds that drive currents in the subsurface. The subsurface currents
are detected and used to model the area under investigation. There is no need for direct physical contact with
the ground, so these are inductive methods. Induction is the general property of an electrical circuit to generate
a magnetic eld in the surrounding medium, as well as the complementary property that a time varying magnetic
eld will generate an electromotive force (and hence a current) in a surrounding conductor. The main advantage
of EM systems over resistivity methods is that since there is no need for physical contact (no electrodes) the
EM methods can be used in non-conductive conditions.
EM methods can be either passive (if they use naturally occurring time varying magnetic elds Mag-
netoTellurics) or active (if they use an articial transmitter near eld = Slingram, Turam, Sundberg; far
eld = Very Low Frequency). Measurements can be made in either the time domain or frequency domain.
EM methods are used in mineral exploration, groundwater surveys, environmental studies (e.g. contamination
plumes), geotechnical surveys (e.g. pipe detection), geothermal studies and geological mapping of faulting or
cavities.
6.1 Principles of EM Theory
A time varying magnetic eld can be generated by driving an alternating current through a loop of wire,
or through a wire grounded at both ends. If there is any conductive material present within the generated
magnetic eld, induced or eddy currents will ow within the conductor in closed paths normal to the direction
of the magnetic eld. These eddy currents will generate their own magnetic eld so that at any point in space
the total magnetic eld consists of two parts. A primary eld due to the initial current source, and a secondary
or disturbing eld due to the eddy currents induced in the conductor. The resultant magnetic eld is usually
measured in terms of the voltage induced in a loop of wire used as a receiver (gure 6.1).
Some care needs to be taken with the terminology associated with magnetic eects. We will refer to B,
which is measured in Tesla (1 T = 1 N/(A m)) as the magnetic eld, as is most natural. However, it is also
common to refer to this quantity as the magnetic ux density or the magnetic induction, terms which also have
other meanings. B can be generated by a material with a magnetization (M the magnetic dipole moment
per unit volume) arising due to the alignment of atomic dipoles. B can also be generated by free currents
(the ordinary currents with which we are familiar, magnetization produces so called bound currents in that the
54
EM 55
Receiver
Loop
Target
Conductor
Transmitter
Loop
Figure 6.1: Schematic illustration of the eddy currents, primary and secondary magnetic elds of an EM survey.
electrons are attached to a specic atom and thus are not free to move throughout the material). The eld
generated by free currents is called called the auxiliary eld (H), also known as the magnetic eld intensity.
Both H and M have units of A/m, and the overall relationship between these three quantities is
B =
0
(H+M) (6.1)
where
0
= 4 10
7
N/A
2
is the permeability of free space.
Some materials are naturally magnetized, all materials will show some amount of induced magnetization,
i.e. the atoms have a non-zero magnetic moment which become aligned when exposed to an external magnetic
eld. The measure of induced magnetization strength is
M
, the magnetic susceptibility. In linear media the
susceptibility is independent of the applied eld strength and
M =
M
H (6.2)
such that
B =
0
(1 +
M
)H = H (6.3)
where is the permeability of the material. In most common materials the magnetic susceptibility is very small
(on the order of 10
5
) and
0
.
6.1.1 Steady Fields
In exploration EM the magnetic eld is generally created by running a current through a wire. The strength
of the generated magnetic eld will be proportional to the current and inversely proportional to the distance
from the wire. The direction of the magnetic eld will be in circular loops perpendicular to the wire and obey
the right-hand rule (see gure 6.2).
In free space, the magnetic eld due to a steady current can be calculated using the Biot-Savart Law
B =

0
4
_
I d r
r
2
(6.4)
For an innite line current, the associated magnetic eld is B =
0
I/2a. If we consider the line integral around
a loop of the eld (the circle C with associated tangent vector c) we have
_
C
B dc =

0
I
2a
2a
_
C
B dc =
0
I
enc
(6.5)
(6.6)
EM 56
We can turn the left-hand side of this equation into a surface integral using Stokes Theorem and the right-hand
side of the equation in to an integral over the same surface by using the denition of the current density, J
(with units A/m
2
).
_
A
(B) da =
0
_
A
J da
B =
0
J (6.7)
Where A is the surface bounded by C. Equations (6.5, 6.7) are the integral and dierential forms of Amperes
Law for the case of steady currents and elds.
wire carrying
current I
circle ! wire, radius a
B, out of
page at top
B, into page
at bottom
r
d

Figure 6.2: Magnetic eld about a line current


6.1.2 Time Varying Fields
For non-steady currents the use of Stokes theorem is complicated by the ability to choose arbitrary surfaces as
there are an innite number of surfaces that will bounded by C. Charge can accumulate when we allow non-
steady currents, therefore we can nd equally valid choices of A which will have diering amounts of current
passing through them. In the time-varying case a second term must be added to Amperes Law to give
B =
0
J +
0

0
E
t
(6.8)
This new term is known as the displacement current although it does not correspond to a physical current; it
accounts for the magnetic eld that is generated by a time varying electric eld. In matter this equation takes
the form
H = J
f
+
D
t
(6.9)
where J
f
is the free current and D = E is known as the electric displacement. The displacement current is
negligible compared to the induced, free current in a good conductor. However in a poor conductor it can
be the primary cause of magnetic eld generation. In the absence of free current the displacement current is
the primary source of magnetic eld generation and is key to the generation of EM waves, as we saw when
considering GPR.
Similarly, a time varying magnetic eld generates an electric eld. If we consider the magnetic ux through
a loop of wire
=
_
A
B da (6.10)
where A is a surface bounded by the loop, then the motional emf (electromotive force) generated in the loop as
it is moved through a spatially varying magnetic eld, or if there is a time-varying magnetic eld, is
_
E dl = E =
d
dt
(6.11)
EM 57
The time varying emf corresponds to a time varying electric eld within the loop and hence a time varying
current. This is the integral form of Faradays Law, the dierential form is
E =
B
t
(6.12)
6.1.3 Inductive coupling
Equations (6.8 and 6.12) can be combined to show that a time varying current in one loop will induce a time
varying magnetic eld in the surrounding volume, which in turn will induce an emf that will drive current in a
second nearby conductor (gure 6.3). Let the current in the transmitter loop be I(t) = I
0
sin(t). The magnetic
eld strength at the centre of this circular loop is
B =

0
I(t)
4
_
dl r
r
2
=

0
I
0
2a
sin(t) (6.13)
The eld is approximately, spatially constant inside the loop so
=
_
B dA a
2
B =
a
0
I
0
2
sint (6.14)
If the second, receiver loop is suciently close by, this will also be the ux in that loop. This time varying ux
will create an emf in the receiver loop
E
r
=

t
=
a
0
I
0
2
cos t =
a
0
I
0
2
sin(t /2) (6.15)
The induced emf lags the primary current by a quarter cycle (/2).
Transmitter
loop
Receiver
loop

B(t)
Figure 6.3: Time varying current in the transmitter loop (bottom) generates a time varying magnetic eld (B)
and hence a time varying ux in the receiver loop (top).
If we consider only the peak amplitudes we see that the ux in the receiver loop is proportional to the
current in the transmitter loop. That is = MI where M is the mutual inductance of the two loops. The unit
of inductance is the henry (1 H = 1 V s/A). In case above M = a
0
/2; however, it is clear that M will depend
on the shape, position and orientation of both loops (gure 6.4). It can be dicult to calculate the mutual
inductance for a general set up; however, it can be shown that the inductance in loop 2 due to a current in loop
1 is
M
2,1
=

0
4
_ _
dl
1
dl
2
r
(6.16)
an expression known as the Neumann formula. This formula shows that M is a purely geometric quantity. Also,
we are free to number the loops however we want, so clearly M
1,2
= M
2,1
= M, hence mutual inductance.
Whatever the shapes and positions of the loops, the ux through loop 2 when we run a given current around
loop 1 is exactly the same as the ux through loop 1 if we run the same current around loop 2. In general, if
EM 58
we run a current I(t) = I
0
e
it
through our transmitter loop, then we will have an emf E
r
= iMI(t) in the
receiver loop.
r
dl
1
dl
2
Figure 6.4: Arbitrary loops
Additionally, we have seen that there is a time-varying ux through the transmitter loop. Therefore, an
emf is induced in the transmitter loop as well. This is the self inductance of the current loop which leads to
E = L
I
t
(6.17)
where L is the inductance of the loop. This emf acts to oppose any attempts to change the current around the
loop, a property known as Lenzs Law.
Current in the receiver loop will be determined by the emf (E
r
(t)) due to mutual inductance with the
transmitter (M
rt
), some level of resistance (R
r
) and a self inductance (L
r
). The current generated in the
receiver loop due to inductive coupling with the transmitter (I
rt
(t)) is described by a modied version of Ohms
law
E
rt
L
r
I
rt
t
= I
rt
R
r
(6.18)
If we assume that the current in the transmitter coil has the form I
0
e
it
, then the emf in the receiver due to
the transmitter current can be written as E
rt
= iM
rt
I
0
e
it
and the solution to equation (6.18) is
I
rt
(t) =
iM
rt
I
0
R
r
+ iL
r
e
it
(6.19)
To this point we have considered our two loops in isolation. What if there is also a large conductive body
nearby (gure 6.1)? The time varying magnetic eld from the transmitter will produce an emf and a current
directly in the receiver loop (I
rt
) as described by equation (6.19). However, the transmitter will also induce an
emf and hence eddy currents (I
st
) in this secondary, conductive body, with
I
st
(t) =
iM
st
I
0
R
s
+ iL
s
e
it
(6.20)
where M
st
is the mutual inductance between the secondary body and the transmitter loop and R
s
and L
s
are
the internal resistance and self inductance of the secondary body.
These eddy currents will generate the so-called secondary magnetic eld which will also be inductively
coupled to the receiver loop generating a secondary emf and hence a current. The current arising due to mutual
inductance between the receiver and the secondary body will be
I
rs
(t) =
iM
rs
R
r
+ iL
r
I
st
(t) (6.21)
EM 59
The total current measured in the receiver loop will therefore be
I
r
(t) = I
rt
+ I
rs
=
iM
rt
I
0
R
r
+ iL
r
e
it

M
rs
R
r
+ iL
r
M
st
I
0
R
s
+ iL
s
e
it
=
iM
rt
I
0
R
r
+ iL
r
_
1
iM
st
M
rs
M
rt
(R
s
+ iL
s
)
_
e
it
(6.22)
6.1.4 Induction Amplitude and Phase Lag
The two sources of current induction in the receiver loop dier in both amplitude and phase. We can investigate
the phase lag of the secondary eld relative to the primary eld by considering the ratio
I
rs
I
rt
=
M
st
M
rs
M
rt
i
R
s
+ iL
s
=
M
st
M
rs
M
rt

R
2
s
+
2
L
2
s
(L
s
iR
s
)
=
M
st
M
rs
M
rt

_
R
2
s
+
2
L
2
s
_

L
s
_
R
2
s
+
2
L
2
s
i
R
s
_
R
2
s
+
2
L
2
s
_
(6.23)
which is a complex number of the form A(cos + i sin). The phase lag of the secondary eld relative to the
primary eld is
=
_

2
+ tan
1
_
L
s
R
s
__
(6.24)
Re
Im
A
IQ
!
IIP
Figure 6.5: Plot of the current ratio in the complex plane
When the conductivity of the secondary body is (very) low we nd that R
s
/2 and the
secondary eld lags the primary by 90

and is, therefore, out of phase with the primary eld. Conversely when
the conductivity is (very) high we have R
s
0 and the secondary eld is considered to be in phase
with the primary (albeit with a reversal of sign). As a result, the components of the current ratio are known as
the in-phase component (for the real) and the out-of-phase or quadrature component (for the imaginary). We
can therefore express the current ratio as I
rs
/I
rt
= I
IP
+ iI
Q
and comparison with equation (6.23) gives
A =
M
st
M
rs
M
rt

_
R
2
s
+ L
2
s

2
=
_
I
2
IP
+ I
2
Q
(6.25)
Note that although the ratio of secondary to primary current may be large for a highly conductive target (A is
large) the quadrature component will be small. Therefore, if only the imaginary component of the current in
the receiver loop is measured, good conductors will produce very small signals. In frequency domain EM we can
measure the receiver response relative to the known transmitter forcing and use plots of the quadrature against
the in-phase component to interpret the properties of the subsurface. (Note that it is common to speak of the Q
EM 60
and IP components of the signal, these should not be confused with other terms having the same abbreviations;
in this context IP is NOT induced polarization!).
L
R
C
E(t)
Figure 6.6: RLC series circuit
We can gain further insight into the phase lag between the primary and secondary elds by considering that
the ground under investigation acts like an electrical circuit with resistive, inductive and capacitive components
to which we are applying a time varying emf E(t) = E
0
sint (gure 6.6). In such a circuit the resulting current
is
I(t) = E
0
_
[L (1/C)]
2
+ R
2
_
1/2
sin(t ) (6.26)
where
= tan
1
_
L (1/C)
R
_
(6.27)
is the phase lag of the current with respect to the applied voltage. Note that the term which depends on
capacitance is inversely proportional to frequency, thus at high frequencies the eects of subsurface capacitance
can be ignored and we are in the purely inductive regime. Recall that induced polarization measurements
involved frequencies of 10 Hz or less so that the capacitance was important but not the inductance. Frequency
domain EM methods generally use frequencies of hundreds to thousands of hertz, even up to several tens of
kilohertz.
In EM exploration the primary eld (H
P
= H
0
sint) is in phase with the generated current (gure 6.7a).
The induced voltage in the secondary conductor lags behind the primary eld by /2, as in equation (6.15)
(gure 6.7b). Eddy currents in the secondary conductor take a nite time to generate and thus lag behind
the induced emf by a phase lag (equation 6.27) which depends on the electrical properties of the conductor
(gure 6.7c). The secondary magnetic eld is in phase with the induced current in the conductor and thus lags
the primary eld by /2 + (equation 6.24). The sum of the primary and secondary elds gives the resultant
eld at the receiver coil, which will lag behind the primary eld by some phase angle () (gure 6.7d).
We can plot the elds as vectors in a phase space consisting of their in-phase and quadrature components
(gure 6.8). By denition the primary eld has only an in-phase component. The secondary eld has both
in-phase and quadrature components and lags the primary eld by /2 + . The resultant eld, the vectorial
summation of the primary and secondary elds, has a phase lag .
6.1.5 Polarization
Thus far we have considered the temporal shift ( = [/2 + ]) of the secondary eld with respect to the
primary. The secondary eld will, in general, also point in a dierent direction than the primary eld, i.e. there
will be an angle () between them. In order to determine the resultant eld we need to resolve the primary and
EM 61
/2
a)
Primary Current or Magnetic Field
Time
H
p

Secondary Current or Magnetic Field


c)
H
s
b)
Voltage in Secondary Conductor
E
s
Resultant Magnetic Field
d)

H
r
= H
p
+H
s
Figure 6.7: The various elds in the inductive coupling problem plotted against time. (After Beck (1981) via
Reynolds (1997).)

/2
H
s
H
p
H
r
IP
Q
Figure 6.8: Field vectors plotted in Q-IP space
secondary elds into their vertical (z) and horizontal (x) components (gure 6.9a).
H
r
(t) = H
rx
(t) x + H
rz
(t)z (6.28)
H
rx
(t) = H
px
cos t + H
sx
cos(t +) = R
x
cos(t +
1
)
H
rz
(t) = H
pz
cos t + H
sz
cos(t +) = R
z
cos(t +
2
)
with H
2
r
(t) = H
2
rx
(t) + H
2
rz
(t). Both the magnitude and orientation of the resultant eld vary through time
with the tip of the vector tracing out an ellipse in the x-z plane (gure 6.9b) which is known as the ellipse of
polarization. This ellipse is inclined with respect to horizontal by a tilt angle
=
1
2
tan
1
_
R
x
R
z
cos(
2

1
)
R
2
x
R
2
z
_
(6.29)
EM 62
R
z
H
s
H
p
x
z

H
sx
cos(t + )
H
px
cos(t)
a)
x
z
R
x
b)

H
p
z
c
o
s
(

t
)
H
s
z
c
o
s
(

t
+

)
Figure 6.9: a) The vertical (z) and horizontal (x) components of the primary and secondary elds. b) The
ellipse of polarization of the resultant eld.
6.1.6 Depth of Penetration
When considering GPR we saw that, in non-conductive media, the electric and magnetic elds obey the wave
equation. We also considered the case of waves within weakly conductive media. We did not consider the case
of highly conductive media. Within a good conductor Maxwells equations can be manipulated to obtain a
propagation equation for the electric eld

2
E =
E
t
+

2
E
t
2
(6.30)
The magnetic eld obeys an equivalent expression. When conductivity is negligible this expression simplies to
the wave equation we considered before. On the other hand, when conductivity is large the equation becomes

2
E
E
t
(6.31)
which is a diusion equation. The eective diusivity of the medium is = 1/.
Consider a plane wave with angular frequency incident on the surface (z = 0) of a conductive medium.
From the diusion equation we nd that within the medium the electric eld is of the form
E(z, t) = E
0
e
z/
e
[i(tkz)]
(6.32)
where k =
_
/2 is the wavenumber of the eld within the medium and = 1/k =
_
2/ is the skin depth.
As in the GPR formulation the amplitude of the eld falls to 1/e of its initial value when z = ; however, note
that the diusive skin depth is not equal to the wave skin depth of the GPR problem. The diusive skin depth
depends strongly on frequency.
The response of an EM system will depend on how the separation between the transmitter and receiver
loops (RT) compares to the skin depth. If (RT)/ 1 then the skin depth is eectively large, as would be
the case for poorly conducting ground. This is known as the low induction number limit. In the low induction
number limit we expect that the in-phase component of the receiver current to be very small compared to the
quadrature component (as we saw above with low conductivity, gure 6.5). Therefore, in our expression for the
amplitude of the current ratio of the receiver loop (equation 6.25) we have I
IP
I
Q
, which is equivalent to
saying L
s
R
s
, and we obtain
1
R
s
=
I
Q

M
rt
M
st
M
rs
(6.33)