The paper presents a computational algorithm designed for efficient modelling of apparent resistivity over complex geological structures, using finite element method. The algorithm can be used to study variations of apparent resistivities using any electrode configuration at any point on the earth’s surface, not necessarily regular. A Schlumberger apparent resistivity sounding curve over a buried anticline, is presented here as an example and compared with the corresponding analytical curve, to demonstrate the correctness of the FEM algorithm.
The various potential derivatives required for the computation of apparent resistivities evaluated through different electrode configurations have been obtained by calculating the ‘influence coefficients’ using reciprocal theorems, an approach successfully applied in structural engineering. In essence, a set of self balancing nodal currents, obtained from the appropriate derivative(s) of the shape functions of the elements contributing to the point of observation, is applied as the load vector.
The resulting quantities corresponding to the potential distribution in traditional finite element method, then, turn out to be the potential derivatives at the point of observation for different positions of the current electrodes. These are known as influence coefficients.
The continuum nature of the domain beyond the region of interest has been modelled by using ‘infinite elements’ across which the potential is assumed to decay exponentially.