An algorithm is presented for the inversion of marine controlled-source electromagnetic (CSEM) data that uses a 2D finite difference (FD) forward driver. This code is demonstrated by inverting a CSEM data set collected at Hydrate Ridge, Oregon, consisting of 25 seafloor sites recording a 5-Hz transmission frequency. The sites are located across a bathymetric high, with variations in water depth of 300m along the 16-km profile. To model this complex seafloor bathymetry accurately, the FD grid was designed by careful benchmarking using a different 2D finite element (FE) forward code. A comparison of the FE and FD forward model solutions verifies that no features in the inversion are due to inaccuracies of the FD grid. The inversion includes the local seawater conductivity–depth profile as recorded by the transmitter's conductivity–temperature-depth gauge, because seawater conductivity is known to have a significant effect on the CSEM responses. An apparent resistivity pseudosection of the CSEM data resembles the 2D inversion in general appearance. However, the inversion provides depth and geometric control of features that cannot be provided by the pseudosection and eliminates artifacts generated from the pseudosection projection.

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