21 Mar 2022
21 Mar 2022

Developing a low-cost frequency-domain electromagnetic induction instrument

Gavin Wilson1, Jacob Conrad1, John Anderson1, Andrei Swidinsky1,a, and Jeffrey Shragge1 Gavin Wilson et al.
  • 1Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, United States
  • anow at: Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Abstract. Recent advancements and the widespread availability of low-cost microcontrollers and electronic components have created new opportunities for developing and using low-cost, open-source instrumentation for near-surface geophysical investigations. Geophysical methods that do not require ground contact, such as frequency-domain electromagnetics, allow one or two users to quickly acquire large amounts of ground resistivity data. The Colorado School of Mines electromagnetic system (CSM-EM) is a proof-of-concept instrument capable of sensing conductive objects in near-surface environments, is similar in concept to commercial grade equipment, and costs under US$ 400 to build. We tested the functionality of the CSM-EM system in a controlled laboratory setting during the design phase and validated it over a conductive target in an outdoor environment. The transmitter antenna can generate a current of over 2.5 A, generating signals that are detectable by a receiver antenna at offsets of up to 25 m. The system requires little refitting to change the functioning frequency, and has been operationally validated at 0.4 kHz and 1.6 kHz. The receiver signal can be measured by off-the-shelf digital multimeters. Future directions will focus on improving the electronic and mechanical stability of the CSM-EM with the goal of using acquired data to make quantitative estimates of subsurface resistivity distribution.

Gavin Wilson et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-24', James Clark, 19 Apr 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Gavin Wilson, 20 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-24', Reza Mir, 22 Apr 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Gavin Wilson, 14 May 2022

Gavin Wilson et al.

Gavin Wilson et al.


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Short summary
The widespread availability of low-cost electronics has created new opportunities for affordable geophysical equipment. Electromagnetic geophysical methods allow users to examine the electrical properties of the ground. The Colorado School of Mines electromagnetic system (CSM-EM) is a proof-of-concept instrument capable of sensing shallow conductive objects and costs under US$ 400 to build. We tested the system in a laboratory setting and validated it over a metal target outdoors.