1D resistivity survey

A survey where resistivity changes are resolved

only in the vertical direction. In most cases, a horizontally layered earth is

assumed. Vertical electrical sounding is an example of a 1D survey.

2D resistivity survey

A survey where electrodes are installed along a

profile line and/or within a plane for cross borehole imaging, and resistivity

variations in the vertical section are resolved. 2D surveys are based on

the assumption of a two-dimensional earth resistivity model with no variation

in the direction perpendicular to the plane (usually vertical) through

the line of electrodes.

3D resistivity survey

A survey where data is collected over an area

and/or in bore holes to determine resistivity variations in a volume.

Apparent resistivity

A weighted average of the resistivities under four

electrodes A, B, M, N. Weighted because a larger part of the current

takes a path close to the surface, and average because the current travels

through all the material below the four electrodes. The apparent resistivity

is the same as the true resistivity if the ground is homogeneous

below the four electrodes.

Archie’s law

In petrophysicsArchie's law relates the in-situ electrical conductivity of a

sedimentary rock to its porosity and brine saturation.

Depth penetration

Depends upon the electrode spread length and type of electrode array.

Typically the depth penetration is in the range 15-30% of the total electrode

spread length (before roll-along).

Dipole-dipole electrode array

An array where all electrodes are placed in line. The two current electrodes

are placed close together (as a dipole) and the the two potential electrodes are placed

closed together (as a dipole). The distance between the two dipoles is typically equal to or larger than the dipole size.

Electrode arrays

For one measurement, at least four electrodes are

needed. By tradition, these electrodes are placed in different geometric

configurations, where each configuration has its own name. For example,

Schlumberger, Wenner, or dipole-dipole configuration.

Forward modeling

Calculate voltage or apparent resisistivity data from a

synthetic geological model with a particular array configuration.

Fox, Robert W. (1789-1877)

A British geologist and inventor who performed electrical geophysical

measurements already in 1830 in underground copper mines in Cornwall, England.

Infinity electrode

A remote electrode placed at such a distance that its

electric field does not distort the electric field in the survey area. The

infinity electrode is located away from the survey area and typically at a

distance of 5-10 times the largest electrode spacing of the survey area.

Inverse modeling

Calculate resistivity distribution from the field data,

that can then be related to the subsurface geology.


Induced Polarization. Measuring the voltage decay curve after the

injected current is shut off. This method has been extremely successful to

locate disseminated copper ore bodies.

Karst topography

A limestone or dolomitic area signified by caves, sinkholes and dissollution channels.

Named after the Karst area in Slovenia, where this type of terrain can be seen as

large caves, huge sinkholes and underground rivers.


Unit of electrical conductance. The reciprocal relationship between

conductance and resistance is indicated by spelling ohm backwards.

Mise a-la-masse

French meaning “charged body.” In this method one

current electrode is attached to a conductor, an ore body for example,

and the other current electrode is placed at infinity. The extent of the

body is then mapped by moving the two potential electrodes along the

surface, over the body.

Multi-channel system

A resistivity system with more than one receiver

so that more than one reading is taken for each current injection. For

example, an 8-channel instrument may record up to 8 measurements for

each current injection. A multi-channel instrument is faster than a single

channel instrument.

Multi-electrode system

A resistivity system where more than four electrodes

are placed on a line or in a grid. For each measurement at least

four electrodes are used, two for current injection and two for potential

measurement. The advantage is that the electrodes do not need to be

moved during the survey, thus saving time and reducing the chance of

human error.

Non-polarisable electrode

An electrode which is designed so that there

will be no potential caused by electrochemical reaction between the electrode

and the ground. Also known as porous pot.


Unit for resistance. Named in honor of the German physicist Georg

Simon Ohm (1789-1854).


Unit for resistivity. Resistivity is a property of matter.

Ohms law

States that the strength of an electrical current is directly proportional

to the electro-motive force (potential), and inversely proportional

to the resistance of the circuit.

Pole-dipole electrode array

A method where one current electrode is placed at "infinitiy". In reality 

this is of course not possible, so it is placed at a distance which should

be at least 10 times the size of the survey area. The other current electrode

is placed in the survey area and the potential dipole is used to measure the

resulting voltage, as the dipole is stepped away from the current electrode.

Pole-pole electrode array

Similar to the pole-dipole array, but two "infinity" electrodes are used, one 

for current and one for potential. The two infinity electrodes are placed at 

opposite side of the survey area. The voltage is measured as the single

voltage electrode is stepped away from the current electrode within the

survey area.


A method where the four electrodes A, B, M, N are moved forward,

along a line, for each measurement, without changing the geometry

of the electrodes. This method is used to detect lateral sub-surface


Reciprocity, theorem of

The potential between two electrodes M and N,

caused by a current being injected between two electrodes A and B, is

the same, if the potential is measured between A and B and the same

current injected between M and N.

Resistivity imaging

A method that can be seen as a data aquisition

combination of sounding and profiling. To collect data cost-effectively a

multi-electrode system is typically used for this type of survey. The complete

data set is inverted from apparent resistivity to resistivity using a

resistivity inversion software based on the finite element or finite difference


Roll along

A technique where some of the first electrodes are moved to

the end of the line when the initial survey is ready. This way the survey

line can be extended even though there is a limited number of electrodes

at a fixed spacing. The electrodes can be moved forward in a leap frog

fashion indefinately.

Schlumberger, Conrad (1878-1936)

Performed a series of electrical

experiments in Normandy 1912-1914. Founded the Schlumberger Well

Surveying Corporation in 1934.

Schlumberger electrode array

An array where the two outer electrodes

are current electrodes and the two inner electrodes placed close together

in the middle are the potential electrodes.


Unit for conductance. Named in honor of the German inventor

Werner von Siemens (1816-1892).


Self potential, also known as, spontaneous potential or streaming

potential. The natural voltage existing in the ground without any artificial

current injection.


StrongGradient™ electrode array is used when performing resistivity

imaging in order to measure the electrical field gradient between electrodes

A and B. The electrodes A and B are placed 10 electrode spacings apart,

starting at electrodes 1 and 11. The resulting voltage is measured between

electrodes 2-3, 3-4,.....8-9 and 9-10. This procedure is repeated as the array

is moved one electrode spacing down the line until the end of the line.

Time lapse measurement

Repeating a resistivity survey to determine

the resistivity changes with time, that may be caused by contaminant

migration, groundwater recharge, salt-water intrusion, or remediation

process. A repeating 3D resistivity survey is also called a 4D resistivity

survey with the 4th dimension being time.


Vertical Electrical Sounding. A method where the electrodes are

expanded around the mid-point for each measurement. By expanding the

electrodes the current takes a somewhat deeper path so that a 1D interpretation

of the sub-surface can be achieved. This method is sometimes

also referred to as “electrical drilling.”

Wenner electrode array

The four electrodes are placed in a line with an

equal spacing, the two outer electrodes are the current electrodes and

the two inner ones are potential elelctrodes.

Wenner, Frank (1873-1954)

American physicist at the US Bureau of Standards who

deviced the Wenner configuration of electrodes. Wenner also gave a

clear statement of the theorem of reciprocity in 1912.