The Use of Rotational Invariants for the Interpretation of Marine CSEM Data with a Case Study from the North Alex Mud Volcano, West Nile Delta.

Hölz, Sebastian , Swidinsky, Andrei, Sommer, Malte, Jegen, Marion and Bialas, Jörg (2015) The Use of Rotational Invariants for the Interpretation of Marine CSEM Data with a Case Study from the North Alex Mud Volcano, West Nile Delta. Open Access Geophysical Journal International, 201 (1). pp. 224-245. DOI 10.1093/gji/ggv015.

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Submarine mud volcanos at the seafloor are surface expressions of fluid flow systems within the seafloor. Since the electrical resistivity of the seafloor is mainly determined by the amount and characteristics of fluids contained within the sediment's pore space, electromagnetic methods offer a promising approach to gain insight into a mud volcano's internal resistivity structure. To investigate this structure, we conducted a controlled source electromagnetic experiment, which was novel in the sense that the source was deployed and operated with a remotely operated vehicle, which allowed for a flexible placement of the transmitter dipole with two polarization directions at each transmitter location. For the interpretation of the experiment, we have adapted the concept of rotational invariants from land-based electromagnetics to the marine case by considering the source normalized tensor of horizontal electric field components. We analyse the sensitivity of these rotational invariants in terms of 1-D models and measurement geometries and associated measurement errors, which resemble the experiment at the mud volcano. The analysis shows that any combination of rotational invariants has an improved parameter resolution as compared to the sensitivity of the pure radial or azimuthal component alone. For the data set, which was acquired at the ‘North Alex’ mud volcano, we interpret rotational invariants in terms of 1-D inversions on a common midpoint grid. The resulting resistivity models show a general increase of resistivities with depth. The most prominent feature in the stitched 1-D sections is a lens-shaped interface, which can similarly be found in a section from seismic reflection data. Beneath this interface bulk resistivities frequently fall in a range between 2.0 and 2.5 Ωm towards the maximum penetration depths. We interpret the lens-shaped interface as the surface of a collapse structure, which was formed at the end of a phase of activity of an older mud volcano
generation and subsequently refilled with new mud volcano sediments during a later stage of activity. Increased resistivities at depth cannot be explained by compaction alone, but instead require a combination of compaction and increased cementation of the older sediments, possibly in connection to trapped, cooled down mud volcano fluids, which have a depleted chlorinity. At shallow depths (≤50 m) bulk resistivities generally decrease and for locations around the mud volcano's centre 1-D models show bulk resistivities in a range between 0.5 and 0.7 Ωm, which we interpret in terms of gas saturation levels by means of Archie's Law. After a detailed analysis of the material parameters contained in Archie's Law we derive saturation levels between 0 and 25 per cent, which is in accordance with observations of active degassing and a reflector with negative polarity in the seismics section just beneath the seafloor, which is indicative of free gas.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been published in Geophysical Journal International ©2015 Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Marine controlled source electromagnetics, rotational invariants, marine mud volcano, West Nile Delta
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1093/gji/ggv015
ISSN: 0956-540X
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2015 13:45
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2018 07:42

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