We have found how the effects of the air wave in marine controlled-source electromagnetic (CSEM) methods gradually vanish in the sea for shallow waters, and how at the same time they gradually grow below the seafloor, in an effort to comprehend existing detectability definitions. The transition from sea to land is smooth because the sea becomes a thin conductive layer when the water depth is smaller than the skin depth in the sea. We consider the problem of detecting resistive layers at depth associated with hydrocarbon reservoirs, particularly in shallow-water explorations and, specifically, on how the air wave affects detection. Our analysis is based on an integral representation of the electric field in terms of its sensitivity to changes in the electrical conductivity of a 1D profile. Two-dimensional images of the integrands are obtained by plotting the integrand as a function of depth for different offsets. Results include the expected growth of the inhibiting effect of the sea as the water depths decrease. However, we also find that this happens up to a point and that from then on its effect decreases to zero. Regarding the resistive layer at depth, its importance grows to a constant as the water depth decreases to zero. As a function of offsets, there appear first the direct current effects. The induction zone is next and is dominated by contributions from the underlying formations. The third zone, which corresponds to the air wave, is largely dominated by contributions from the sea. The fourth and last zone is the plane-wave asymptote. All four classical zones identified in marine CSEM are also present in land CSEM.

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