Performance Evaluation of Copper and Stainless-steel Electrodes in Electrical Tomographic Imaging


Geophysicists use electrical methods to investigate and characterise the earth’s subsurface geology. This study aims to evaluate the performance of copper and conventional stainless-steel electrodes in subsurface tomographic investigations using electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and induced polarisation (IP) at two sites in Penang, Malaysia. Site 1 and Site 2 employed profile lengths of 200 m and 100 m, with electrodes spacing of 5.0 m and 2.5 m, respectively. In the results of the final data inversion, it was observed that the ERT and IP tomographic models of Site 1 have the best convergence limits with percentage relative differences (copper as reference model) ranging from –70% to 70%, while Site 2 recorded –8% to 8%. The electrodes performance evaluation showed that population root mean square (RMS) error and population mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) of data points between copper and stainless-steel electrodes yielded large values for Site 1 with values above 28% and that of Site 2 was less than 4%. Hence, copper (good electrical conductivity and non-polarisable) electrodes have improved the quality and quantity of infield data which give low values of population RMS error and population MAPE compared to conventional stainless-steel electrodes, especially for large unit electrode spacing surveys. Most notably, this work has contributed to the understanding of the capability of copper electrodes in providing precise and reliable inversion models for subsurface tomographic investigations in pre- and post-land uses (engineering work), hydrogeology/groundwater, environmental studies, etc.