The Applicability of an Inverse Schlumberger Array for Near-Surface Targets in Shallow Water Environments

We investigate the applicability of offshore geoelectrical profiling in the littoral zone, e.g., for archaeological prospection, sediment classification and investigations on coastal ground water upwelling. We performed field measurements with a 20 m long multi-electrode streamer in inverse Schlumberger configuration, which we used to statistically evaluate measurement uncertainty and the reproducibility of offshore electric resistivity tomography. We compared floating and submerged electrodes, as well as stationary and towed measurements. We found out that apparent resistivity values can be determined with an accuracy of 1% to 5% (1σ) depending on the measurement setup under field conditions. Based on these values and focusing on typical meter-scale targets, we used synthetic resistivity models to theoretically investigate the tomographic resolution and depth penetration achievable near-beach underneath a column of brackish water of about 1 m depth. From the analysis, we conclude that offshore geoelectric sounding allows the mapping of archaeological stone settings. The material differentiation of low-porosity rock masses < 15% is critical. Submerged wooden objects show a significant resistivity contrast to sand and rocks. Distinguishing brine-saturated sandy sediments from cohesive silty-clayey sediments is difficult due to their equal or reversed resistivity contrasts. Submarine freshwater discharges in sandy aquifers can be localized well, though difficulties may occur if the seafloor encounters massive low-porosity rock masses. As to the measurement setups, submerged and floating electrodes differ in their spatial resolution. Whereas stone settings of 0.5 to 1 m can still be located with submerged electrodes within the uppermost 4 m underneath the seafloor, they have to be >2 m if floating electrodes are used.


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