Articles | Volume 25, issue 1
01 Feb 2007
 | 01 Feb 2007

Earth conductivity structures and their effects on geomagnetic induction in pipelines

P. A. Fernberg, C. Samson, D. H. Boteler, L. Trichtchenko, and P. Larocca

Abstract. Anomalous, large pipe-to-soil potentials (PSP) have been observed along a natural gas pipeline in eastern Ontario, Canada, where there is a major geological contact between the highly resistive rocks of the Precambrian Shield to the west and the more conductive Paleozoic sediments to the east. This study tested the hypothesis that large variations of PSP are related to lateral changes of Earth conductivity under the pipeline. Concurrent and co-located PSP and magnetotelluric (MT) geophysical data were acquired in the study area. Results from the MT survey were used to model PSP variations based on distributed-source transmission line theory, using a spatially-variant surface geoelectric field. Different models were built to investigate the impact of different subsurface features. Good agreement between modelled and observed PSP was reached when impedance peaks related to major changes of subsurface geological conditions were included. The large PSP could therefore be attributed to the presence of resistive intrusive bodies in the upper crust and/or boundaries between tectonic terranes. This study demonstrated that combined PSP-MT investigations are a useful tool in the identification of potential hazards caused by geomagnetically induced currents in pipelines.