Modeling temporal variations of electrical resistivity associated with pore pressure change in a kilometer-scale natural system

Abstract : From 1995 to 1998 the natural electric field was monitored with an array of 20 dipoles on a ridge separating two reservoir lakes in the French Alps. The experiment was run to study the correlation between the electric potential variations and transient deformations of the ridge in association with the annual cycle of lake level variations. Large distortion of the induced electric field is observed and is found almost purely static and well correlated to the geology. A simple DC 3-D model is constructed, and resistivity structures that create the distortion are identified. The electrically resistive crystalline bedrock strongly amplifies the static distortion caused by the heterogeneous geology on the ridge. The temporal variations of the electric distortion observed over two years are associated with the lake level cycle. The model suggests that a resistivity variation of the order of 20% in the bedrock can account for the observed seasonal time-varying distortion. The resistivity change could be explained in terms of pore and crack geometry change controlled by stress. This study suggests that in particular geological contexts, electrical resistivity changes in structures can be detected through an amplification of the static distortion of the induced electric field. The results provide a framework to interpret some observations of electric field variations possibly associated with tectonic activity. The galvanic coupling model proposed here is an alternative to the streaming potential effect model, and it defines new criteria for the surface detection of groundwater in the crust.
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Sophie Hautot. Modeling temporal variations of electrical resistivity associated with pore pressure change in a kilometer-scale natural system. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, AGU and the Geochemical Society, 2005, 6, pp.Q06005. ⟨10.1029/2004GC000859⟩. ⟨hal-00113777⟩

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