ABSTRACT

The transient electromagnetic (TEM) method has recently been proposed as a tool for mineral exploration on the seafloor. Similar to airborne TEM surveys conducted on land, marine TEM systems can use a concentric or coincident wire-loop transmitter and receiver towed behind a ship. Such towed-loop TEM surveys can be further augmented by placing additional stationary receivers on the seafloor throughout the survey area. We examine the electric fields measured by remote receivers from an inductive source transmitter within a 1D layered earth model. At sea, it is conceivable to deploy either a horizontal transmitter (such as the analogous standard airborne configuration) or a more exotic vertical transmitter. Therefore, we study and compare the sensitivity of the vertical and horizontal towed-loop systems with a variety of seafloor conductivity structures. Our results indicate that the horizontal loop system is more sensitive to the thickness of a buried conductive layer and would be advantageous over the vertical loop system in characterizing the size of a shallowly buried mineralized zone. The vertical loop system is more sensitive to a resistive layer than the horizontal loop system. The vertical electric field produced by the vertical loop transmitter is sensitive to greater depths than the horizontal fields, and measuring the vertical field at the receivers would therefore be advantageous. We also conducted a novel test of a towed horizontal loop system with remote dipole receivers in a marine setting. The system was tested at the Palinuro volcanic complex in the Tyrrhenian Sea, a site of known massive sulfide mineralization. Preliminary results are consistent with shallowly buried material in the seafloor of conductivities >1  S/m.

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