We have developed a new data acquisition system and technique to measure the radio magnetotelluric (RMT) signals from distant radio transmitters with the objective of mapping and modeling electric resistivity structures below a river or lake. The acquisition system is towed by a boat; therefore, we call the technique boat-towed RMT. The data acquisition is fast with a production rate of approximately 1km/hr using a nominal sampling spacing of 10–15 m. Given the ample number of radio transmitters available in most parts of the world, the method can be used for near-surface studies of various targets. We have developed boat-towed RMT measurements on Lake Mälaren near the city of Stockholm in Sweden to determine the feasibility of the method. Approximately 15 km of RMT data were collected during three days above a planned 60-m-deep bypass tunnel with the goal of providing information on the bedrock depth and possible weak zones within the bedrock. The measured resistivity and phase data were of high quality with errors on the order of a few percent. The resistivity models from 2D inversion of the data showed a good correlation with available geologic data in resolving bedrock depth and also resistivity layering within the lake. Resistivity maps derived from the dense 2D models suggested a northeast–southwest-striking low-resistivity zone at less than a 30-m depth. The zone likely represents fractured crystalline bedrock. The boat-towed RMT technique is well suited for water bodies with moderate electric resistivity such as in brackish and freshwater environments.

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