Three-dimensional audio-magnetotelluric sounding in monitoring coalbed methane reservoirs

Nan Wang, Shanshan Zhao, Jian Hui, Qiming Qin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Audio-magnetotelluric (AMT) sounding is widely employed in rapid resistivity delineation of objective geometry in near surface exploration. According to reservoir patterns and electrical parameters obtained in Qinshui Basin, China, two-dimensional and three-dimensional synthetic “objective anomaly” models were designed and inverted with the availability of a modular system for electromagnetic inversion (ModEM). The results revealed that 3-D full impedance inversion yielded the subsurface models closest to synthetic models. One or more conductive targets were correctly recovered. Therefore, conductive aquifers in the study area, including hydrous coalbed methane (CBM) reservoirs, were suggested to be the interpretation signs for reservoir characterization. With the aim of dynamic monitoring of CBM reservoirs, the AMT surveys in continuous years (June 2013–May 2015) were carried out. 3-D inversion results demonstrated that conductive anomalies accumulated around the producing reservoirs at the corresponding depths if CBM reservoirs were in high water production rates. In contrast, smaller conductive anomalies were generally identical with rapid gas production or stopping production of reservoirs. These analyses were in accordance with actual production history of CBM wells. The dynamic traces of conductive anomalies revealed that reservoir water migrated deep or converged in axial parts and wings of folds, which contributed significantly to formations of CBM traps. Then the well spacing scenario was also evaluated based on the dynamic production analysis. Wells distributed near closed faults or flat folds, rather than open faults, had CBM production potential to ascertain stable gas production. Therefore, three-dimensional AMT sounding becomes an attractive option with the ability of dynamic monitoring of CBM reservoirs, and lays a solid foundation of quantitative evaluation of reservoir parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-209
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Audio-magnetotelluric (AMT)
  • Coalbed methane (CBM)
  • Dynamic monitoring
  • ModEM
  • Qinshui
  • Three-dimensional (3-D) inversion


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