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Resistivity imaging, also referred to as resistivity tomography, is a rather technical term that many everyday people are not familiar with, but it’s nothing more than the study of various structures and materials that are located beneath the Earth’s surface. Special imaging devices take pictures of these sub-structures, and translate them into graphs and even two-dimensional and three-dimensional maps. As the term suggests, electricity is used to take these kinds of images, as electricity can be measured in resistance, and this type of imaging utilizes electricity to see what type of resistance there is. The resulting information is transferred into actual graphs, maps, and images that are easy to read and decipher.

In order to execute imaging from resistivity, electrodes are inserted into special holes known as "bore holes". Bore holes are essentially holes in the ground that may not be that large in diameter, but can extend quite significantly downwards – sometimes dozens or even hundreds of feet.

Thanks to advances in technology, today’s geo-science tools are often wireless and rechargeable, as well as WiFi ready – meaning that scientists can travel to even remote areas to conduct their studies, and wirelessly transmit the recorded information to computers and other equipment. There are even mobile apps available, so data can be transferred and read from a smart phone or mobile tablet. And many of these devices are waterproof, which means that studies can be conducted underwater safely, and without the worry of accidentally damaging equipment in the process.

You would be surprised at how useful imaging is, even to the average layman. This type of study of the Earth and its underground structures are extremely useful in detecting potential oil wells, underground water supplies, underground caves and tunnels, and even fossils from dinosaurs and other extinct animals. Since the resulting images from these studies are like actual pictures, the scientists who work with imaging from resistivity and tomography can easily pinpoint, to the exact latitude and longitude, how far down a particular structure or item of interest is, and how to safely access it for further study or use.

Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
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