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Electromagnetic Baikal Experiment


Deep-Water Electromagnetic Experiment in the Baikal Rift Zone

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment
  • OBS-NAT/Natural Resources and Earth Sciences/Other Basic Sciences

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
MGTU (Moscow State Technical University), Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • IZMIRAN, Russia, Moscow reg., Troitsk\nRussian Academy of Sciences / Geoelectromagnetic Research Institute, Russia, Moscow reg., Troitsk\nRussian Academy of Sciences / Institute of Nuclear Research, Russia, Moscow\nIrkutsk State University / Applied Physics Institute, Russia, Irkutsk reg., Irkutsk


  • The University of Utah / College of Mines and Earth Sciences, USA, UT, Salt Lake City

Project summary

The goal of this experiment is to investigate by electromagnetic methods the geomagnetic and hydrodynamic processes in the region of an active fault in the deep-water portion of Lake Baikal. The main focus of activity is high-accuracy, long-term measurements of the electromagnetic field, allowing for the separate study of contributions created by the sea-current magnetohydrodynamic effect, by the fluid filtration effect directly responding to the tectonic processes, and by atmospheric-magnetospheric sources. Measurement data derived from these contributions permits monitoring of tectonic and hydrodynamic activity, and it also permits the introduction, independent of seismic methods, of refinements to the concept of the main fault-zone structure. The most important purpose is to detect asynchronous local and nonlocal relationships between the measured signals and the source-processes in order to estimate the possibilities of employing these relationships in forecasting. An additional aim of these studies is to achieve the first direct verification of a hypothesis about the locking of the global electric circuit above active fault zones.

At present it is well known that the hydrospheric electromagnetic field is a sensitive indicator of the various dynamical physical-chemical processes in the hydrosphere itself, underlying the lithosphere and distant magnetospheric-ionospheric regions. This universality of the electromagnetic field response is an advantage, allowing its employment for indirect study of the multitude of processes and structures inaccessible to direct measurement. But it is also a disadvantage because of the problem of separating the different source contributions. This problem can be solved in the case of a special performance of the experiment. Such performance has become possible only recently as a result of the improved understanding of the physics of field-generated multiform processes. Lake Baikal represents a unique active rift structure—an incipient ocean, and an equally unique ecological zone (UNESCO World Heritage). Research of the lake by seismic, geothermic, hydrologic and other methods is carried out very intensively. However, only the adjacent land has yet been studied by electromagnetic methods. Preliminary deep-water electromagnetic studies of Baikal, carried out by the project team, gave extremely valuable information on the hydrodynamic and tectonic activity and unexpectedly gave the first confirmation of the hypothesis about locking of the global electric circuit above the fault zones. The project realization will drastically improve the possibilities for ecological monitoring of Baikal and for the forecasting of hydrologic and tectonic processes, while the elaborated methods can be used in the ocean.

The studies are carried out by scientists of BMSTU (the leading institution), GMRC SIPE RAS, IZMIRAN, INR RAS, and API ISU. The project participants have wide experience in performance of deep-water geophysical experiments and their data interpretation. In particular, the participants from GMRC SIPE RAS and IZMIRAN represent the core of marine electromagnetic research schools, owing to which in due time the U.S.S.R. has joined, along with the U.S.A., the countries of the marine electromagnetic “club.”

The result of the project will be the creation of a constantly operating system of electromagnetic monitoring of hydrodynamic and geodynamic activity. Information of fundamental importance for basic geophysics will be obtained about electromagnetic interaction of the geospheres, and the experience gained in exploring the possibilities of employing this monitoring data in forecasting can be performed on analogous systems in the ocean. The project meets the ISTC objective on the redirection of Russian weapon scientists to basic research.

The project goal is achieved by accomplishing the following tasks:

  1. Performance of long-term, high-accuracy measurements of the vertical component of the electric field on the base surface-floor at two sites—directly above the main fault and clear of it—together with measurements of the sea currents and the magnetic field on land.
  2. Performance of continuous shoreline measurement of the horizontal components of the electric field at four sites on shore and near the fault.
  3. Performance of continuous measurement of the electric field and current in the lowest layer of the atmosphere.
  4. Magnetotelluric sounding in the vicinity of the main fault.
  5. Interpretation of the measurement results with the aim of field separation into their sources and excitation modes and construction of a geoelectric model.
  6. Correlation of the electromagnetic monitoring results with hydrologic, geodynamic, seismic, ionospheric, cosmophysical, and solar data.
  7. Testing of the theoretical notions about the synchronous and asynchronous responses of dynamical processes, the role of nonlocal correlations, the possibility of the employment of advanced correlation forecasting, and the mechanism of global electric circuit locking.

Foreign Collaborator M.S. Zhdanov, U.S.A., being an outstanding scientist in electromagnetic geophysics, has participated in planning the experiment and will take part in the analysis and interpretation of the results.