Controlled-source EM (CSEM) is an active-source electromagnetic technique that employs a deep or surface-towed horizontal electric dipole to generate electric and magnetic fields at low frequencies. The transmitted CSEM fields diffuse through the seafloor whereas the returning secondary fields are recorded by either ocean-bottom or fixed-towed electric receivers. The CSEM method is primarily sensitive to resistive structures at crustal depths.

Porpoise Array is a surface-towed CSEM system that comprises an onboard EM transmitter, horizontal electric dipole (HED) antenna, and an array of electric field receivers. This marine project will utilize the Porpoise array to produce a resistivity tomography of the sub-seafloor, down to a depth of ~500-600 mbsf. The Porpoise CSEM system was developed and owned by the EM laboratory at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Schematic illustration of the Porpoise surface-towed CSEM system.

Additional marine geophysical datasets will be acquired using a high-resolution R2Sonic2024 multi-beam system and a G-882 marine magnetometer. These additional datasets will help us to map the seabed bathymetry and detect strong magnetic features such as dike systems. Additionally, backscatter data will provide information regarding the seafloor texture, whereas multi-beam data derived from the water column might detect localized regions of prominent freshwater influx to the sea.

The CSEM survey will encompass the entire offshore region that is parallel to the Hualalai terrestrial aquifer, acquiring data using 5 parallel survey lines (48 km each), and 5 perpendicular survey lines (1-3 km each). The total survey length is approximately  250 km.

The marine CSEM survey layout: The red lines denote the parallel survey towlines, whereas the black lines represent the survey crosslines. Right inset: Bathymetry/elevation map of the island of Hawaiʻi. The survey area is indicated by black rectangular.

The CSEM results to be derived from this study will be analyzed in a joint interpretation framework that will include the additional marine geophysical datasets (multi-beam, backscatter, and magnetometer). The interpretation scheme will also consider land-based geophysical information (MT and seismic), as acquired from the area adjacent to the Kona coastline. Such an integrative approach will lead to a broad understanding of the groundwater system in western Hawai‘i island, both inland and in offshore submarine regions. Ultimately, the resulting submarine resistivity models will be available to the Hawai‘ian community, the board of water supply, and local stakeholders via the Ike Wai project web-based Gateway platform.