This paper presents the results of a geophysical survey which was performed in the Sarliève marsh, located in the north of the Massif Central (France). The studied area corresponds to an ancient lake filled with 6 m of Lateglacial to historic sediments. The numerous cores and excavations previously performed in basin areas show the presence of thick fine grained and carbonated lake deposits. The mineralogical study of these deposits allows us to distinguish two main types of formations, which differ in their composition and origin. In the lower part of the sedimentary filling, the SDLF formation is generally characterized by abundant chalky and dolomitic layers, probably formed by chemical precipitation in an endoreic environment. It was found only in the distal (or depocenter) parts of the ancient lake. The upper part of the filling corresponds to calcitic clayey silty sediments (CF), mainly of detrital origin. They can be found both in the distal and proximal parts of the ancient lake. In order to precise the geometry of the marsh sedimentary filling and to discriminate between these two fine grained sediment types (SDLF and CF), an electromagnetic survey was carried out using an EM31 conductivity meter. It was completed by 16 electrical soundings performed within the marsh.
The electromagnetic survey enables us to draw a large-scale conductivity map, which highlights the presence of a highly conductive zone (HCZ) in the central part of the marsh, more pronounced in the south. The HCZ is bordered by more resistive and heterogeneous fields, where conductive structures are visible. We show that there is no clear correlation between the measured conductivity and the total lacustrine sediment thickness. However, the HCZ is related to the distal parts of the ancient lake, locally identified from borehole data. In the corresponding sedimentary filling, the SDLF formation appears as a very low resistive layer (about 1.2Ω.m) on the electrical soundings. It explains the high conductivity of the distal lacustrine sediments. We finally combine the cores and the geophysical data to estimate the spatial extent and the volume of the SDLF formation of the whole marsh. This study shows that geophysics can contribute to distinguish, in a globally homogeneous fine grained sedimentary filling (carbonated clayey silts), lacustrine sediments formed in very different contexts, one as chemical precipitation, the other of detrital origin.