2D interpretation of the Magnetotelluric data to prospect deep iodine bearing salt water reservoirs in northern Aqqala, Golestan plain


1 Associate Professor, Department of Earth Physics, Institute of Geophysics, University of Tehran, Iran

2 M.Sc. in Geophysics, Department of Geophysics, Graduate University of Advanced Technology of Kerman, Iran

3 M.Sc. in Geophysics, Department of Earth Physics, Institute of Geophysics, University of Tehran, Iran

4 Assistant Professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate University of Advanced Technology of Kerman, Iran


The Magnetotelluric (MT) method is an electromagnetic geophysical exploration technique that images the electrical conductivity distribution of the Earth crust and upper mantle. The source of energy in the MT method is natural. When the external energy, known as the primary electromagnetic field, reaches the Earth's surface, part of it is reflected, whereas the remainder penetrates into the Earth, which by interaction with the conductors, induces an electric field (known as telluric currents) and at the same time produces a secondary magnetic field which can be measured at the surface and the impedance tensor is calculated.
In the fall of 2014 MT measurements were carried out at northern Aqqala of Golestan plain in the northeast of Iran, close to the southeastern shore of the Caspian Sea. It was carried out in a wide frequency range to recognize the Conductive layers in depths of less than 2000 m in the region. Determining the potential of the area in terms of electrically conductive layers which represent the iodine bearing saltwater structures was our objective.
The electric and magnetic field components were acquired along two EW profiles (with 1500 meter distance) at 20 stations with a 900 meter distance between stations using GMS05 (Metronix, Germany) systems. Three magnetometers and two pairs of non-polarizable electrodes were connected to this five-channel data logger. The experimental setup included four electrodes distributed at a distance of 100 m in north-south (Ex) and east–west (Ey) directions.
In the MT method, conductive structures are ideal targets when located in a considerably resistive host. They produce strong variations in underground electrical resistivity. A robust single site processing followed by the one dimensional and two dimensional modeling that were performed for the MT data along profiles A and B. Analysis of the MT data-set suggests signatures of salt water reservoirs in the area which are distinguished potentially positive to contain iodine. We could recognize the more conductive zones in the less conductive host as layers of saline water.
Aqqala of Golestan plain geologically is a part of the Kopeh-Dagh sedimentary basin. Kopeh- Dagh was formed by the last orogeny phase of Alpine and the subsequent erosion. Topography relief is very smooth and basically it is a flat plain consisting of loesses occurring naturally between the Alborz mountain range and the desert of Turkmenistan. Quaternary sediments including clay and evaporates and particularly salt are impenetrable.
The MT data were processed using a code from Smirnov (2003) aiming at a robust single site estimate of electromagnetic transfer functions. 1D and 2D inversions were conducted to resolve the conductive structures. 1D inversion of the determinant (DET) data using the code of Pedersen (2004) as well as the 2D inversion of DET mode data using a code from Siripunvaraporn and Egbert (2000) were performed. The data were calculated as apparent resistivity and phases. The determinant mod provides a useful average of the impedance for all current directions. Since the quality of the determinant data was acceptable, 2D modeling of the determinant data would be expected to provide a more reasonable approximation of the true subsurface structure. Therefore, we used the model obtained from the DET mode data as a final interpretation model
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the possibility of using surface MT measurements on the very conductive sediments to monitor the underground salt water bearing layers or bodies. In this study one and two dimensional interpretations for recognizing conductivity structures were performed. The resistivity sections showed a clear picture of the resistivity changes both laterally and with depth. The inversion results revealed a highly conductive layers iodine bearing saltwater structures which are at the depths of over 450 meters along some profiles. One of the sites was proposed for exploratory excavations.


Main Subjects

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