Geophysical Inversions with SimPEG: An Example with Airborne Electromagnetic Data

14 February 2024
11:00 AM (CST)

Geophysical inversions are used to build models of the subsurface from data collected over the Earth. SimPEG, an open-source Python package, provides a versatile framework for simulating and inverting a variety of geophysical methods, including: gravity, magnetics, resistivity, induced polarization, magnetotellurics, and controlled source frequency and time domain electromagnetic data. In this tutorial, we delve into SimPEG’s comprehensive framework for setting up and running inversions, covering key components such as setting up a simulation, choosing regularization methods, assessing data noise, configuring minimization directives, and inspecting the recovered models. We will demonstrate different inversion methods applied to the same dataset and see where they can help enhance our understanding of the subsurface.

This tutorial will demonstrate SimPEG’s application in interpreting airborne SkyTEM data collected in the Salinas Valley of California. We guide users through the process of incorporating processed data into the SimPEG framework, representing survey parameters using SimPEG components, and utilizing these components to construct a 1D layered simulation object used for rapid interpretation of collected data through both simulation and inversion. Specifically, we illustrate how to utilize this simulation object to generate data from a conductivity and thickness model. With SimPEG’s modular structure, this tutorial’s approach can be extended to accommodate various geophysical methods and more complex inversion operations, highlighting the package’s versatility across diverse applications in geophysics.

Additional Resources for getting started with SimPEG and connecting with the SimPEG community:


Speaker Bios

Joseph Capriotti

Joseph Capriotti obtained his PhD in geophysics in 2019 and a BSc in geophysical engineering in 2012, both from Colorado School of Mines. His thesis work studied fluid flow coupled time-lapse inversion techniques. His current research involves developing frameworks for joint inversions, time-lapse monitoring of geothermal systems, and procedural model generation. Having previously been a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences department, he is currently a research associate in the Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines. Joe is also the director of operations of the open-source geophysical inversion software SimPEG.

Lindsey Heagy:

Lindsey Heagy is an assistant professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences and Director of the Geophysical Inversion Facility at UBC. She completed her BSc in geophysics at the University of Alberta in 2012 and her PhD at UBC in 2018. Prior to her current position, she was a postdoctoral researcher in the Statistics Department at UC Berkeley. Her research combines computational methods in numerical simulations, inversions, and machine learning for using geophysical data to characterize the subsurface. Primary applications of interest include mineral exploration, carbon sequestration, groundwater, and environmental studies. She is a co-founder of the SimPEG project which develops open-source for geophysics.

Seogi Kang

Seogi Kang completed his PhD in geophysics at University of British Columbia, Canada, in 2018. His thesis work focused on computational electromagnetics and its application to mining problems. Currently, he is a research scientist in the Geophysics Department at Stanford. His research focus is on maximizing the value of an airborne electromagnetic method for groundwater management and groundwater science in California, USA. He is a co-creator of an open-source geophysical software, SimPEG.