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Research paper: Comparison of ground-based and airborne transient electromagnetic methods for mapping glacial and permafrost environments: Cases from McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica (2022)

Authors: Line M. Madsen, Thue Bording, Denys Grombacher, Nikolaj Foged, Neil Foley, Hilary A. Dugan, Peter T. Doran, Jill Mikucki, Slawek Tulaczyk and Esben Auken

Abstract: The transient electromagnetic (TEM) method is a non-invasive geophysical tool well-suited for subsurface imaging
in cold and polar regions, where common targets are associated with strong contrasts in electrical resistivity. By imaging the electrical properties of the subsurface, the TEM methods can discriminate between geological units such as frozen ground (permafrost), fresh/saline groundwater systems, and bedrock/glacier ice.
In this study, we compare TEM data acquired with ground-based and airborne TEM systems. We demonstrate the mapping capabilities of these two approaches in high-latitude polar environments with datasets from Taylor Glacier, Lake Vanda, and Canada Glacier in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. The results show a high consistency between the airborne and ground-based TEM data, both with a high resolution and a deep penetration depth down to hundreds of meters due to the resistive background material, which makes both approaches capable of mapping hydrological systems and identifying the base of glaciers. The airborne TEM approach offers unmatched spatial data coverage in difficult terrain and a far improved lateral resolution
compared to the static ground-based system. The ground-based TEM system offers the possibility of using larger transmitter coils and longer stacking times and, therefore, has the potential for reaching deeper penetration depths. The ground-based TEM approach is, hence, a valuable tool that can provide consistent imaging results while also being far more accessible in terms of cost and field logistics compared to an airborne TEM campaign.

Cold Regions Science and Technology 199, 2-11


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