We have developed an inversion process of electromagnetic induction (EMI) data based on a two-step approach with 1D inversion of the entire studied surface and a fast 3D inversion applied over limited areas. This process is similar to that formerly used in resistivity prospection. For the study of soil (environmental, engineering, or archaeological explorations), low-frequency electromagnetic instruments (referred to as Slingram EMI) have highly useful specificities. They are light, are easy to move in the field, and can simultaneously measure the ground’s electric conductivity and magnetic susceptibility; they have thus been used to map these properties over large surface areas, within relatively short periods of time, and at reasonable expense. The possibility of combining several coil geometries has opened up the potential for multidepth techniques and systematic 1D inversion, which are found to be sufficiently revealing to allow larger portions of surveyed areas to be analyzed. In the “targeted areas” selected for 3D inversion, the geometries of the 3D features and the resistivity and/or susceptibility contrasts are determined. This step is based on the method of moments, where only 3D heterogeneities are meshed, and only a small number of major characteristics, such as contrast, thickness, width, etc., are sought. We first applied this process to synthetic data, then to data acquired at an experimental test site, and finally to field cases. The rapid 3D inversion complements the 1D inversion by solving a series of issues: correction for the apparent anisotropy generated by the instrument configuration, multiarched anomalies, precise location of lateral changes, and determination of the properties contrasts. Our inversion results highlighted the importance of the instrument geometry. We also have determined that apparent magnetic susceptibility data can be more appropriate for the determination of the volume of man-made features and can be highly complementary to conductivity data.

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