A geostatistically based inverse model for electrical resistivity surveys and its applications to vadose zone hydrology

T. C.Jim Yeh, S. Liu, R. J. Glass, K. Baker, J. R. Brainard, D. Alumbaugh, D. LaBrecque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


A sequential, geostatistical inverse approach was developed for electrical resistivity tomography (ERT). Unlike most ERT inverse approaches, this new approach allows inclusion of our prior knowledge of general geological structures of an area and point electrical resistivity measurements to constrain the estimate of the electrical resistivity field. This approach also permits sequential inclusion of different data sets, mimicking the ERT data collection scheme commonly employed in the field survey. Furthermore, using the conditional variance concept, the inverse model quantifies uncertainty of the estimate caused by spatial variability and measurement errors. Using this approach, numerical experiments were conducted to demonstrate the effects of bedding orientation on ERT surveys and to show both the usefulness and uncertainty associated with the inverse approach for delineating the electrical resistivity distribution using down-hole ERT arrays. A statistical analysis was subsequently undertaken to explore the effects of spatial variability of the electrical resistivity-moisture relation on the interpretation of the change in water content in the vadose zone, using the change in electrical resistivity. Core samples were collected from a field site to investigate the spatial variability of the electrical resistivity-moisture relation. Numerical experiments were subsequently conducted to illustrate how the spatially varying relations affect the level of uncertainty in the interpretation of change of moisture content based on the estimated change in electrical resistivity. Other possible complications are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-1-14-13
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Electrical resistivity tomography
  • Geostatistical inverse model
  • Resistivity-moisture relation
  • Sequential/successive linear estimator
  • Spatial variability
  • Vadose zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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