Electromagnetic (EM) surveys use the principle of induction to measure the electrical conductivity of the subsurface including soil, groundwater, rock and buried objects. EM meters respond strongly to metal. This can be an advantage when the target is metallic, but surveys can be affected by extraneous metallic objects.

Electromagnetic surveys are useful for many different types of geological, engineering and environmental applications including:

  • Buried metallic objects such as steel drums and tanks
  • Buried metal utilities
  • Buried structures such as building foundations
  • Detection of waste pits and ground contamination

Electro magnetic surveys are suitable for conductive materials such as clay and waterlogged ground, which are unsuitable for Ground Penetrating Radar techniques.

Principles of Electromagnetic Surveys

EM conductivity meters contain two sets of coils that are a set distance apart. The separation and orientation of the coils dictates the depth of penetration. One set of coils transmits a primary magnetic field, which generate eddy currents in the subsurface. These induce a secondary current in underground conductors which results in a alternating secondary magnetic field. The second coil senses these magnetic fields and logs the information to a data logger.

A big advantage of electromagnetic surveys is that soil-to-instrument contact is not required. This allows much more rapid data acquisition over resistivity techniques (which utilise metal pins inserted into the ground) and overcomes coupling problems which can be associated with Ground Penetrating Radar methods. Consequently EM offer a rapid survey technique.


Electromagnetic surveys are particularly useful for producing plan view maps, while resistivity methods are typically used to produce cross sections. Electromagnetic data is commonly presented as contour plots.

Rom Gostomski

For further information contact: Rom Gostomski, Partner
Direct Tel: 020 7565 7054
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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