Articles | Volume 3, issue 2
Solid Earth, 3, 401–414, 2012
Solid Earth, 3, 401–414, 2012

Method article 26 Nov 2012

Method article | 26 Nov 2012

A critical discussion of the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) method to determine stress orientations within the crust

M. Krumbholz1,2, M. Bock3, S. Burchardt1,2, U. Kelka3, and A. Vollbrecht1 M. Krumbholz et al.
  • 1Geoscience Center, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • 2Solid Earth Geology, Department of Earth Science, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 3Institute of Geosciences, Johannes-Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany

Abstract. In recent years, the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) method has been used to detect faults and to determine main horizontal stress directions from variations in intensities and directional properties of electromagnetic emissions, which are assumed to be generated during micro-cracking. Based on a large data set taken from an area of about 250 000 km2 in Northern Germany, Denmark, and southern Sweden with repeated measurements at one location during a time span of about 1.5 yr, the method was systematically tested. Reproducible observations of temporary changes in the signal patterns, as well as a strongly concentric spatial pattern of the main directions of the magnetic component of the EMR point to very low frequency (VLF) transmitters as the main source and hence raise serious concerns about the applicability of the method to determine recent crustal stresses. We conclude that the EMR method, at its current stage of development, does not allow determination of the main horizontal stress directions.