Assessment of applying VLF geophysical method to determine the peat deposit thickness

Full Text:


Peat deposits accumulate large reserves of carbon and play an important role in formation of global
climate, biosphere, and hydrological conditions. High degree of knowledge of peat reserves is one of the prerequisites for scientifically based and economically viable wetland management. For economically efficient commercial activity, an enterprise developing a peat deposit must be confident in the availability of sufficient and high quality commercial peat reserves. Therefore, the topic of studying the thickness of peat deposits is quite relevant. The paper analyzes the experience of using the geophysical method called VLF ("very low frequency") to study the thickness of peat deposits. The method consisted of using a VLF receiver to measure the properties of VLF emitted by the peat deposit and the underlying mineral ground. The study was carried out at the Beloe Lake peat deposit in the Tukayevsky district of Tatarstan, at three peat areas of different depths: deep-lying (over 3 m), intermediate (1.5 – 3 m), and shallow (up to 1.5 m). The depth was confirmed by direct measurements in the wells. Low-frequency (VLF) measurements were carried out along the geophysical paths at each area of the peat deposit. The data were processed using the NAMEMD (Noise Empirical Decomposition) method and converted to resistivity and depth values using the specialized software. The study showed that the resistivity differs significantly between the areas of deep-lying and shallow peat. The resistivity varies depending on the peat thickness and the thickness of the buried wood horizons. In the horizons of deep-lying peat, the resistivity is strongly influenced by the degree of peat decomposition, its natural density and moisture. The presence of peaks and their height on the data interpretation plots characterizes the number and thickness of the horizons of buried wood in the peat deposit. With increasing depth of peat occurrence, the resistivity increases significantly. However, in the shallow areas, it does not show differences, being characteristic for the deep-lying peat area. This proves that the VLF method works correctly in peat layers and is capable to indicate the peat thickness, the number and thickness of the buried wood horizons.

About the Authors

T. B. Yakonovskaya
Tver State Technical University
Russian Federation

A. I. Zhigulskaya
Tver State Technical University
Russian Federation

P. A. Yakonovsky
TGT Oil and Gas Services
Russian Federation


1. Mikhailov A., Zhigulskaya A., Yakonovskaya T. Strip mining of peat deposit. In: Proceeding of the 26th International Symposium. Ed. by Behzad Ghodrati, Uday Kumar, Håkan Schunnesson. 2017. P. 497-501.

2. Yakonovskaya T. B., Zhigulskaya A. I., Yakonovsky P. A., Oganesyan A. S. New geophysical drive for downhole tools. In: Technological equipment for the mining and oil and gas industry. Proceedings of the XVIII International Scientific and Technical Conference “Readings in Memory of V.R. Kubachek". Yekaterinburg; 2020. P. 213-215. (In Russ.)

3. Yakonovskiy P. A., Yakonovskaya T. B., Zhigulskaya A. I., Oganesyan S. A., et al. Downhole tool drive. Utility model Patent RU 146847 U1, 20.10.2014. Application No. 2014121877/03 dated 29.05.2014. (In Russ.)

4. Boothroyd Richard J., Warburton Jeff. Spatial organisation and physical characteristics of large peat blocks in an upland fluvial peatland ecosystem. Geomorphology. 2020;370:107-397. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2020.107397

5. Bin Haji Suhip M. A. A., Gӧdeke S. H., Cobb A. R., Sukri R. S. Seismic refraction study, single well test and physical core analysis of anthropogenic degraded Peat at the Badas Peat Dome, Brunei Darussalam. Engineering Geology. 2020;243:452-472. DOI: 10.1016/j.enggeo.2020.105689

6. Boaga J., Viezzoli A., Cassiani G., Deidda G. P., Silvestri S. Resolving the thickness of peat deposits with contact-less electromagnetic methods: A case study in the Venice coastland. Science of The Total Environment. 2020;747:139-361. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139361

7. Özcan N. T., Ulusay R., Işık N. S. Geo-engineering characterization and an approach to estimate the in-situ long-term settlement of a peat deposit at an industrial district. Engineering Geology. 2020;246. DOI: 10.1016/j.enggeo.2019.105329

8. Comas X., Comas L., Slater A. Reeve. Geophysical evidence for peat basin morphology and stratigraphic controls on vegetation observed in a Northern Peatland. Journal of Hydrology. 2004;295:173-184. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2004.03.008

9. Walter J., Hamann G., Lück E., Klingenfuss C., Zeitz J. Stratigraphy and soil properties of fens: Geophysical case studies from northeastern Germany. CATENA. 2016;142:112-125. DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2016.02.028

10. Ponziani M., Slob E. C., Ngan-Tillard D. J. M. Experimental validation of a model relating water content to the electrical conductivity of peat. Engineering Geology. 2012;129-130:48-55. DOI: 10.1016/j.enggeo.2012.01.011

11. Electrical properties of wood. Electrical conductivity of wood. Available from: [Accessed July 25, 2020]. (In Russ.)

12. Guidance on electrocontact dynamic sounding of soils. Мoscow; 1983. Available from: [Accessed July 25, 2020]. (In Russ.)

13. McLachlan P. J., Chambers J. E., Uhlemann S. S., Binley A. Geophysical characterisation of the groundwater-surface water interface. Advances in Water Resources. 2017;109:302-319. DOI: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2017.09.016

14. Altdorff D., Bechtold M., Van der Kruk J., Vereecken H., Huisman J.A. Mapping peat layer properties with multi-coil offset electromagnetic induction and laser scanning elevation data. Geoderma. 2016;261:178-189. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2015.07.015

15. Jiang Z., Schrank C., Mariethoz G., Cox M. Permeability estimation conditioned to geophysical downhole log data in sandstones of the northern Galilee Basin, Queensland: Methods and application. Journal of Applied Geophysics. 2013;93:43-51. Режим доступа: 10.1016/j.jappgeo.2013.03.008

16. Ekwue E. I., Bartholomew J. Electrical conductivity of some soils in Trinidad as affected by density, water and peat content. Biosystems Engineering. 2011;108:95-103. DOI: 10.1016/j.biosystemseng.2010.11.002

17. Zajícová K., Chuman T. Application of ground penetrating radar methods in soil studies: A review. Geoderma. 2019;343:116–129. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2019.02.024

18. Remke L. Van Dam. Landform characterization using geophysics  Recent advances, applications, and emerging tools. Geomorphology. 2012;137(1):57-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.09.005

19. Poggio L., Gimona A., Aalders I., Morrice J., Hough R. Legacy data for 3D modelling of peat properties with uncertainty estimation in Dava bog – Scotland. Geoderma Regional. 2020;22. DOI: 10.1016/j.geodrs.2020.e00288

20. Prinds C., Petersen R.J., Greve M.H., Iversen B.V. Three-dimensional voxel geological model of a riparian lowland and surrounding catchment using a multi-geophysical approach. Journal of Applied Geophysics. 2020;174:54-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.jappgeo.2020.103965

21. Keaney A., McKinley J., Graham C., Robinson M., Ruffell A. Spatial statistics to estimate peat thickness using airborne radiometric data. Spatial Statistics. 2013;5:3-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.spasta.2013.05.003

22. Zimin Yu. V. Radar method for studying peat and sapropel deposits. Abstract of Ph. D. Thesis in Geol.- Min. Science. MSU Publishing House;1987, 18 p. (In Russ.)

23. Bricheva S. S., Matasov V. M., Shilov P. M. Georadar in geoecological studies when artificial watering of peatlands. Geoecology. Engineering Geology. Hydroecology. Geocryology. 2017;(2):84-92. (In Russ.)

Supplementary files

For citation: Yakonovskaya T.B., Zhigulskaya A.I., Yakonovsky P.A. Assessment of applying VLF geophysical method to determine the peat deposit thickness. Gornye nauki i tekhnologii = Mining Science and Technology (Russia). 2020;5(3):224-234.

Views: 551


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ISSN 2500-0632 (Online)