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Resistivity imaging of river embankments: 3D effects due to varying water levels in tidal rivers

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>28/02/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Near Surface Geophysics
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)93-110
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date22/09/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) has seen increased use in the monitoring the condition of river embankments, due to its spatial subsurface coverage, sensitivity to changes in internal states, such as moisture content, and ability to identify seepage and other erosional process with time‐lapse ERT. Two‐dimensional ERT surveys are commonly used due to time and site constraints, but they are often sensitive to features of anomalous resistivity proximal to the survey line, which can distort the resultant inversion as a three‐dimensional (3D) effect. In a tidal embankment, these 3D effects may result from changing water levels and river water salinities. ERT monitoring data at Hadleigh Marsh, UK, showed potential evidence of 3D effects from local water bodies. Synthetic modelling was used to quantify potential 3D effects on tidal embankments. The modelling shows that a 3D effect in a tidal environment occurs (for the geometries studied) when surveys are undertaken at high water levels and at distances less than 4.5 m from the electrode array with 1 m spacing. The 3D effect in the modelling is enhanced in brackish waters, which are common in tidal environments, and with larger electrode spacing. Different geologies, river water compositions, and proximities to the model parameters are expected to induce a varied 3D effect on the ERT data in terms of magnitude, and these should be considered when surveying to minimize artefacts in the data. This research highlights the importance of appropriate geoelectrical measurement design for tidal embankment characterization, particularly with proximal and saline water bodies.