Open Access

Magnetotelluric source effect due to 3D ionospheric current systems using the complex image method for 1D conductivity structures

Earth, Planets and Space201451:BF03351564

DOI: 10.1186/BF03351564

Received: 14 December 1998

Accepted: 16 September 1999

Published: 18 June 2014


The complex image method (CIM) is an efficient tool to calculate the electromagnetic field at the earth’s surface produced by 3D ionospheric current systems when the earth has a layered conductivity structure. The calculations are applicable to the estimation of source effects on magnetotelluric data. In this paper CIM is used in connection with some typical high-latitude ionospheric events: a westward travelling surge, a Harang discontinuity, an omega band, and a giant pulsation. The complicated ionospheric current systems are constructed of short horizontal current filaments with vertical currents at both ends. The currents are given numerically on a 50 km × 50 km grid covering a region of even 1000 km × 2000 km. The investigations indicate that the source distortion very much depends on the event, and may be significant in a wide period range, especially for a resistive earth structure. The source effect seems quite unpredictable. Sometimes the apparent resistivity is larger and sometimes smaller than the plane wave value. At times the source effect is very small even if the ionospheric current is strongly inhomogeneous.