Abstract

Understanding the seismoelectric interface response is important for developing seismoelectric field methods for oil exploration and environmental/engineering geophysics. The existing seismoelectric theory has never been validated systematically by controlled experiments. We have designed and developed an experimental setup in which acoustic-to-electromagnetic wave conversions at interfaces are measured. An acoustic source emits a pressure wave that impinges upon a porous sample. The reflected electric-wave potential is recorded by a wire electrode. We have also developed a full-waveform electrokinetic theoretical model based on the Sommerfeld approach and have compared it with measurements at positions perpendicular and parallel to the fluid/porous-medium interface. We performed experiments at several salinities. For 10−3 and 10−2 M sodium chloride (NaCl) solutions, both waveforms and amplitudes agree. For 10−4 M NaCl, however, amplitude deviations occur. We found that a single amplitude field scaling factor describes these discrepancies. We also checked the repeatability of experiments. The amplitudes are constant for the duration of an experiment (1–4 hours) but decrease on longer time scales (∼24 hours). However, the waveforms and spatial amplitude pattern of the electric wavefield are preserved over time. Our results validate electrokinetic theory for the seismic-to-electromagnetic-wave conversion at interfaces for subsurface exploration purposes.

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