Abstract

The variability of naturally occurring magnetic fields in the frequency range from 10 Hz to 8 kHz over a period of one year was studied. Contour plots for the Hx, Hy, and Hz components and for frequencies of 10, 100, 1000, 2000, and 8000 Hz were produced. Average, minimum, maximum, and the standard deviations of these fields were also calculated for 12 distinctive time intervals. In the 1– to 8–kHz frequency range, the noise levels are typically higher at night. In the 10- to 100-Hz frequency range, the noise levels are typically higher during the day. During mid- to late-summer, there is frequent thunderstorm activity, known in the southwest United States as the monsoon season. The magnetic field levels are often very high during this time period. These variability ranges can be used to estimate the lowest levels of noise that may be encountered during field surveys, which iswhat the authors are looking for when running controlled-source electrical method surveys. These variability ranges can also be used to estimate the highest levels that may be encountered, which is what the authors are looking for when running natural-source electrical methods surveys, such as audio frequency magnetotelluric (AMT) surveys. These measurements of magnetic field strength variability show that better data for controlled-source electrical measurements can be obtained using the minimum noise level measurements, as opposed to using signal integration or signal averaging with all of the data. The minimum noise level is found by using frequency bins adjacent to the signal-frequency bin. Likewise, if one is interested in measuring the naturally occurring magnetic field data, using the maximum values during each time interval makes AMT measurements possible when the natural signal level is very low, particularly in the AMT dead zone around 1–5 kHz.

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