SQUID Systems for Geophysical Time Domain Electromagnetics (TEM) at IPHT Jena

Andreas CHWALA  Ronny STOLZ  Matthias SCHMELZ  Vyacheslav ZAKOSARENKO  Matthias MEYER  Hans-Georg MEYER  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Electronics   Vol.E98-C   No.3   pp.167-173
Publication Date: 2015/03/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1353
DOI: 10.1587/transele.E98.C.167
Type of Manuscript: INVITED PAPER (Special Section on Leading-Edge Applications and Fundamentals of Superconducting Sensors and Detectors)
SQUID,  magnetometer,  geophysical exploration,  time domain electromagnetics,  

Full Text: FreePDF(1.7MB)

Forty years after the first application of Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs) [1], [2] for geophysical purposes, they have recently become a valued tool for mineral exploration. One of the most common applications is time domain (or transient) electromagnetics (TEM), an active method, where the inductive response from the ground to a changing current (mostly rectangular) in a loop on the surface is measured. After the current in the transmitter coil is switched, eddy currents are excited in the ground, which decay in a manner dependent on the conductivity of the underlying geologic structure. The resulting secondary magnetic field at the surface is measured during the off-time by a receiver coil (induced voltage) or by a magnetometer (e.g. SQUID or fluxgate). The recorded transient signal quality is improved by stacking positive and negative decays. Alternatively, the TEM results can be inverted and give the electric conductivity of the ground over depth. Since SQUIDs measure the magnetic field with high sensitivity and a constant frequency transfer function, they show a superior performance compared to conventional induction coils, especially in the presence of strong conductors. As the primary field, and especially its slew rate, are quite large, SQUID systems need to have a large slew rate and dynamic range. Any flux jump would make the use of standard stacking algorithms impossible. IPHT and Supracon are developing and producing SQUID systems based on low temperature superconductors (LTS, in our case niobium), which are now state-of-the-art. Due to the large demand, we are additionally supplying systems with high temperature superconductors (HTS, in our case YBCO). While the low temperature SQUID systems have a better performance (noise and slew rate), the high temperature SQUID systems are easier to handle in the field. The superior performance of SQUIDs compared to induction coils is the most important factor for the detection of good conductors at large depth or ore bodies underneath conductive overburden.