Spectral induced polarization of limestones: time domain field data, frequency domain laboratory data and physicochemical rock properties

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With advances in data acquisition and processing methods, spectral inversion of time domain (TD) induced polarization (IP) data is becoming more common. Geological interpretation of inverted spectral parameters, for instance Cole–Cole parameters, often relies on results from systematic laboratory measurements. These are most often carried out with frequency domain (FD) systems on sandstone samples. However, the two different methods of measuring the spectral IP response differ in both measurement technique and scale. One of the main objectives of this study is, thus, to perform a direct comparison of inverted spectral parameters from TD IP field data with FD IP spectra from laboratory measurements. To achieve this, field measurements were carried out before a ∼50-m-long rock core was drilled down along one of the measurement lines. Solid parts of the core were vacuum-sealed in plastic bags to preserve the natural groundwater in the samples, after which the core samples were measured with FD spectral IP in laboratory. The results showed that the inverted Cole–Cole parameters closest to the borehole were comparable to the IP spectra measured at the core samples, despite differences in measurement techniques and scale. The field site chosen for the investigation was a limestone succession spanning over a well-known lithological boundary (the Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary). Little is known in previous research about varying spectral IP responses in limestones, and an additional objective of this study was, therefore, to investigate possible sources of these variations in the laboratory. The IP spectra were interpreted in light of measured lithological and physicochemical properties. The carbonate texture differed strongly across the Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary from fine-grained calcareous mudstone (Cretaceous) to more well-lithified and coarse-grained wackestone and packstone (Palaeogene). Both laboratory and field spectral IP results showed that these differences cause a large shift in measured bulk conductivity across the boundary. Furthermore, carbonate mound structures with limestone grains consisting mainly of cylindrical bryozoan fragments could be identified in the inverted Cole–Cole parameters as anomalies with high relaxation times. A general conclusion of this work is that limestones can give rise to a wide range of spectral responses. The carbonate texture and the dominant shape of the fossil grains seem to have important control over the electrical properties of the material. A main conclusion is that the inverted Cole–Cole parameters from the field scale TD IP tomography were comparable to the magnitude and shape of FD IP spectra at low frequencies. This opens up large interpretational possibilities, as the comprehensive knowledge about relationships between lithological properties and IP spectra from laboratory research can be used for field data interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)928-950
Number of pages22
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
Early online date2019 Nov 5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geophysical Engineering


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