1997 Volume 49 Issue 11-12 Pages 1677-1696
Various types of electrodes designed for the measurement of the electric field in the soil or in sea water at periods larger than one minute have been compared in a one-year experiment in Garchy, France. The experiment included more than fifty electrode pairs with liquid or absorbed electrolytes and Pb/PbCl2, Ag/AgCl, Cu/CuSO4 and Cd/CdCl2 metal-ion couples. The electrode parameters were systematically measured in the laboratory and the electrodes were installed in the field to constitute 50-meter long parallel dipoles separated by 2 meters. Pairs of electrodes used for sea measurements were monitored in a salted water vessel. Fourty-two potential differences were recorded with a sampling interval of 1 minute between May 1995 and April 1996. When electrodes are compared, large differences are observed in the long term stability as well as in the sensitivity to diurnal variations, rainfall and soil saturation. For measurements in soil, the installation method of the electrodes plays an important role. In salted water, the best performing electrode pair has a drift of the order of 0.1 mV per year. In soil, typical drifts for the best sensors are of the order of 0.2 mV per month in dry soil and 0.5 mV per month in soaked soil. Preferred electrode designs and installation methods, depending on the external conditions or the type of geophysical measurement, emerge from this experiment. In addition to the magneto-telluric field, potential variations which are not electrode or installation effects are observed and attributed to electrical sources in the soil.