Applicability of electrical resistivity tomography monitoring to coarse blocky and ice-rich permafrost landforms



The inversion and interpretation of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) data from coarse blocky and ice-rich permafrost sites are challenging due to strong resistivity contrasts and high contact resistances. To assess temporal changes during ERT monitoring (ERTM), corresponding inversion artefacts have to be separated from true subsurface changes. Appraisal techniques serve to analyse an ERTM data set from a rockglacier, including synthetic modelling, the depth of investigation index technique and the so-called resolution matrix approach. The application of these methods led step by step to the identification of unreliable model regions and thus to the improvement in interpretation of temporal resistivity changes. An important result is that resistivity values of model regions with strong resistivity contrasts and highly resistive features are generally of critical reliability, and resistivity changes within or below the ice core of a rockglacier should therefore not be interpreted as a permafrost signal. Conversely, long-term degradation phenomena in terms of warming of massive ground ice at the permafrost table are detectable by ERTM. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.