The survey method is similar to electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), in that an electric current is transmitted into the subsurface through two electrodes, and voltage is monitored through two other electrodes.
Induced polarization is a geophysical method used extensively in mineral exploration and mine operations. Resistivity and IP methods are often applied on the ground surface using multiple four-electrode sites. In an IP survey, in addition to resistivity measurement, capacitive properties of the subsurface materials are determined as well. As a result, IP surveys provide additional information about the spatial variation in lithology and grain-surface chemistry.
The IP survey can be made in time-domain and frequency-domain mode:
In the time-domain induced polarization method, voltage decay is observed as a function of time after the injected current is switched off.
In the frequency-domain induced polarization mode, an alternating current is injected into the ground with variable frequencies. Voltage phase-shifts are measured to evaluate the impedance spectrum at different injection frequencies, which is commonly referred to as spectral IP.
The IP method is one of the most widely used techniques in mineral exploration and mining industry and it has other applications in hydrogeophysical surveys, environmental investigations and geotechnical engineering projects.
Time-domain IP methods measure considers the resulting voltage following a change in the injected current. The time domain IP potential response can be evaluated by considering the mean value on the resulting voltage, known as integral chargeability or by evaluating the spectral information and considering the shape of the potential response, for example describing the response with a Cole-Cole model.