The Point-Spread Function Measure of Resolution for the 3-D Electrical Resistivity Experiment

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The solution appraisal component of the inverse problem involves investigation of the relationship between our estimated model and the actual model. However, full appraisal is difficult for large 3-D problems such as electrical resistivity tomography (ERT). We tackle the appraisal problem for 3-D ERT via the point-spread functions (PSFs) of the linearized resolution matrix. The PSFs represent the impulse response of the inverse solution and quantify our parameter-specific resolving capability. We implement an iterative least-squares solution of the PSF for the ERT experiment, using on-the-fly calculation of the sensitivity via an adjoint integral equation with stored Green's functions and subgrid reduction. For a synthetic example, analysis of individual PSFs demonstrates the truly 3-D character of the resolution. The PSFs for the ERT experiment are Gaussian-like in shape, with directional asymmetry and significant off-diagonal features. Computation of attributes representative of the blurring and localization of the PSF reveal significant spatial dependence of the resolution with some correlation to the electrode infrastructure. Application to a time-lapse ground-water monitoring experiment demonstrates the utility of the PSF for assessing feature discrimination, predicting artefacts and identifying model dependence of resolution. For a judicious selection of model parameters, we analyse the PSFs and their attributes to quantify the case-specific localized resolving capability and its variability over regions of interest. We observe approximate interborehole resolving capability of less than 1–1.5 m in the vertical direction and less than 1–2.5 m in the horizontal direction. Resolving capability deteriorates significantly outside the electrode infrastructure.