On the Lebanon neoBASIN regional reconnaissance project, we acquired EM resistivity data from roughly 45 ground-based magnetotelluric (MT) stations that were deployed throughout the survey area. Challenging topography and dynamic geo-political conditions on the ground didn’t always let us deploy the stations where we wanted to, but we did get some interesting results nonetheless.
The MT method relies on three primary sources of electromagnetic (EM) energy, all with different frequency ranges and, therefore, depths of penetration. High-frequency signals originate from lightning, in particular ongoing equatorial lightning strikes; intermediate frequency signals come from ionospheric resonances; and low frequency signals are generated by variations in the solar wind.
Driven by advances in sensors, DP and modeling methods, can computing power, MT has become one of the most important tools in deep Earth imaging with a capability to image to subsurface depths of 10,000 meters or more.
For hydrocarbon exploration, MT is mainly used as a complement to seismic imaging. This is especially true for scenarios that can be problematic for seismic, such as sub-basalt and sub-salt plays. In addition, while seismic is able to image subsurface structure, it cannot detect changes in resistivity associated with hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon-bearing formations.
By measuring both electric and magnetic responses simultaneously and processing the data using statistically rigorous mathematics, MT allows resistivity variations to be mapped with depth in the subsurface. Under the right geologic conditions, MT can differentiate between structures bearing hydrocarbons and those that do not.
In the image above, we analyzed the MT data in several different ways, initially in an unconstrained fashion and then in a constrained inversion where we also considered the measurements from, and structrual models being generated using, airborne-acquired gravity and magnetic data.
The multi-measurement integration and interpretation yielded very good results. In the 2-D constrained EM resistivity section shown, you’ll note several interesting features:
- First, the fairly clean resistivity delineations among the key stratigraphic horizons;
- Second, the insight EM resistivity information can bring to fault mapping, including the displacement along faults;
- Lastly, the interesting intra-horizon resistivity increase as one moves up-section within the Cretaceous.
The scale here is logarithmic, so this is roughly a 10x increase in resistivity taking place within a 500-800 meter thick interval. Equally curious is that it’s taking place along and adjacent to a deeply penetrating fault. Simply an aberration? Noise in the data? A change in lithology? Or a change in fluid type at the highs abutting the fault?
Interesting to contemplate, isn’t it???