Open Access

Behaviour of magnetotelluric source fields within the equatorial zone

Earth, Planets and Space201451:BF03351585

DOI: 10.1186/BF03351585

Received: 10 October 1998

Accepted: 4 May 1999

Published: 20 June 2014


It is well known that equatorial electrojet (EEJ) currents can significantly affect the geomagnetic variations. However, in a recent study (Padilha et al., 1997) it was observed that magnetotelluric (MT) soundings carried out across the dip equator in the Brazilian equatorial zone were not affected significantly due to EEJ currents. By using new results from geomagnetic variation signals, measured simultaneously to the MT experiment at a chain of equatorial and mid-latitude stations, an attempt is made here to explain the MT results in terms of the behaviour of the primary inducing field during the survey. Most of the analysis is performed by considering a single frequency (0.885 mHz), representative of the MT frequency interval. It is observed that the amplitude of the geomagnetic variations appears horizontally homogeneous within the study area (from −3° to +3° of geomagnetic latitude), indicating that the primary field in the analysed frequency range may be considered sufficiently uniform in the horizontal direction thus satisfying the Tikhonov-Cagniard plane-wave criterion. The same geomagnetic data also show that, if any EEJ source effect exists, it would be restricted to the transition zone (between 3° and 5°, at both sides of the dip equator). Dmitriev-Berdichevsky’s constraints calculated at two different frequencies and a modelling exercise using EEJ parameters derived from a magnetometer array were able to explain the MT observations and have shown that source effects would just appear in frequencies lower than 1 mHz (resistive regions) and 0.1 mHz (conductive regions). Considering the characteristics of propagation and amplification of geomagnetic variations at the equatorial zone it is concluded that EEJ currents could be used as a source for lithospheric MT studies in these regions.