Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Sarah Kruse, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Rains, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Timothy Dixon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Loke Meng Heng, Ph.D.


Geophysics, ERT, Array, Optimization, Inversion, Karst


This thesis presents a novel resistivity method called Multi-Electrode resistivity technique (MERIT) that is used for high resolution imaging of complex geologic features at depth and near the edges of survey lines. The MERIT electrodes are especially shaped and designed to be self-driven using a robust-direct push technique. Measurements are taken using optimized arrays that are generated using a modified version of the “Compare-R” optimization algorithm. This work focused on both two-dimensional (MERIT2D) and three-dimensional (MERIT3D) applications of the buried array and show the relevance of the additional information gained by the addition of deep electrodes especially in sites with limited survey area. Numerical and laboratory studies are used to test and develop the technique and are later applied to image complex subsurface geologic structures on the field.

The configuration of MERIT arrays brings some additional problems in terms the sensitivity of the deep MERIT arrays to a problem of non-uniqueness, mis-information, geometric error and resolution break between the two layers of electrodes. Multiple vertical resolution characteristic curves (RC curves) are analyzed to study the effect of array type, resistivity contrast, target resistivity and implant depth on the above-mentioned problems. Results show that MERIT measurements taken using standard dipole -dipole and wenner arrays along the surface and deep electrodes will strongly suffer from the problem of non-uniqueness or ambiguity while measurements taken using optimized arrays is suitable for MERIT configuration and will not suffer from any problem of ambiguity or non-uniqueness. Based on our result, a procedural guideline is developed to determine optimal MERIT implant depth and resolution cutoff that can be used for successful field implementation and for controlling misinformation during data interpretation.

Numerical studies involving simple shapes and complex geometries mostly based on actual geological cross-sections from karst environments were used to compare the effectiveness of MERIT2D in terms its high depth resolution and is compared in detail with traditional 2D and 3D surface resistivity methods of equal foot prints. Similar comparison was made between MERIT3D technique and 3D surface resistivity measurements. Results show that both methods achieve high depth resolution compared to their equivalent traditional resistivity methods. Laboratory experiment conducted using a complex analogue model mimicking actual sinkhole structure is used to test MERIT2D. Also laboratory experiment involving a 3D printed plastic cave model mimicking an actual cave was conducted using MERIT3D approach. Both results show the promise of MERIT approach to image and solve complex geological structures or problems.

Finally, the method is applied to collect field data in three case study sites involving complex karst related sinkhole structures and an old landfill site. The result shows the promising capability of the MERIT technique to study challenging geologic conditions with high depth resolution.