Exploiting the information content offered by geoelectric data in an efficient manner requires careful selection of the electrode configurations to be used. This can be achieved using sequential experimental design techniques proposed over the past few years. However, these techniques become impractical when large-scale 2D or 3D experiments have to be designed. Even if sequential experimental design were applicable, acquisition of the resulting data sets would require an unreasonably large effort using traditional multielectrode arrays. We present a new, fully parallelized pole-bipole measuring strategy by which large amounts of data can be acquired swiftly. Furthermore, we introduce a new experimental design concept that is based on “complete” data sets in terms of linear independence. Complete data sets include a relatively small number of basis electrode configurations, from which any other configuration can be reconstructedby superposition. The totality of possible configurations is referred to as the comprehensive data set. We demonstrate the benefits of such reconstructions using eigenvalue analyses for the case of noise-free data. In the presence of realistic noise, such reconstructions lead to unstable results when only four-point (bipole-bipole) configurations are considered. In contrast, complete three-point (pole-bipole) data sets allow more stable reconstructions. Moreover, complete pole-bipole data sets can be acquired very efficiently with a fully parallelized system. Resolution properties of complete pole-bipole data sets are illustrated using both noise-free and noisy synthetic data sets. We also show results from a field survey performed over a buried waste disposal site, which further demonstrates the usefulness of our approach. Although this paper is restricted to 2D examples, it is trivial to extend the concept to 3D surveys, where the advantages of parallelized pole-bipole data acquisition become very significant.

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