On negative induced polarization in frequency domain measurements

Chen Wang, Andrew Binley, Lee D. Slater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Induced polarization (IP) has been widely used to non-invasively characterize electrical conduction and polarization in the subsurface resulting from an applied electric field. Earth materials exhibit a lossy capacitance defined by a negative intrinsic phase in frequency-domain IP (FDIP) or a positive intrinsic chargeability in time-domain IP (TDIP). However, error-free positive apparent phase or negative apparent chargeability (i.e. negative IP effects) can occur in IP measurements over heterogeneous media. While negative IP effects in TDIP data sets have been discussed, no studies have addressed this topic in detail for FDIP measurements. We describe theory and numerical modelling to explain the origin of negative IP effects in FDIP measurements. A positive apparent phase may occur when a relatively high polarizability feature falls into negative sensitivity zones of complex resistivity measurements. The polarity of the apparent phase is determined by the distribution of subsurface intrinsic phase and resistivity, with the resistivity impacting the apparent phase polarity via its control on the sensitivity distribution. A physical explanation for the occurrence of positive apparent phase data is provided by an electric circuit model representing a four-electrode measurement. We also show that the apparent phase polarity will be frequency dependent when resistivity changes significantly with frequency (i.e. in the presence of significant IP effects). Consequently, negative IP effects manifest themselves in the shape of apparent phase spectra recorded with multifrequency (spectral IP) data sets. Our results imply that positive apparent phase measurements should be anticipated and should be retained during inversion and interpretation of single frequency and spectral IP data sets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-353
Number of pages12
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Electrical properties
  • Electromagnetic theory
  • Hydrogeophysics


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