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Airborne VLF EM data are mainly used for geological mapping, interpretation of large scale geological features, such as faults and shears, and locating graphite and base metal conductors.

To make VLF-EM measurements, McPHAR utilizes a TOTEM-2A unit. The TOTEM-2A utilizes three orthogonally mounted air-core coils which measure the total field strength and the vertical quadrature component of the magnetic  VLF field. The TOTEM-2A receives the magnetic component of fields radiated from VLF transmitters in the 15 to 25 kHz frequency range. These transmitters are located around the world for the purposes of navigation and communication with submarines. The parameters normally measured are the change in total field and the vertical quadrature component and the total field  gradient from dual sensors. The sign of the quadrature polarity is also recorded.
Automatic measurement of two VLF stations

The TOTEM-2A can be configured to measure two VLF transmitting stations simultaneously, which results in greatly improved data quality for two important reasons. First, the likelihood of finding conductive bodies that strike in different directions is enhanced. Secondly, responses from more than one transmitter can be correlated to verify the results of each measurement, thereby resulting in better confidence in the data and better interpretations.

Accurate frequency selection

The frequency of the Line and Ortho channels can be selected individually by means of three digital thumbwheel switches, in 100 Hz steps, throughout the full range of 15.0 to 24.3 kHz. By special modification the range can be extended to 10 to 30 kHz, however, by doing so the TOTEM-2A will not then be direct reading.

Wide signal bandwidth

As VLF stations are located at 100 Hz increments, the acceptance bandwidth around the nominal frequency is sufficient to accommodate modulation plus some offset without causing severe modulation noise.

Detects geological strikes in almost any direction

The TOTEM-2A has the capability to detect conductors with strikes in almost any direction, because its efficiency of operation makes it feasible to read two transmitted signals.

Quantities Measured by the Totem-2A

The TOTEM-2A can simultaneously process dual frequency information from each of two spatially separated sensors, thereby permitting gradient measurement at two primary field azimuths.

Primary fields

The horizontal magnetic field component Ho of the propagating field from VLF radio transmission stations is utilized by the TOTEM-2A as the source of primary excitation. This component continues to exist beneath the earth's surface as Hd, decreasing at a rate dependent on the ground conductivity.

Secondary field

Conductivity variations in the horizontal plane, due to localized mineralization or other geological structure, causes a secondary field to be generated.

The TOTEM-2A avoids the need for independent orientation, and amplitude or phase reference by effectively measuring the change in magnitude and the ellipticity (polarization) of the total field (primary plus secondary). Because anomalous secondary fields are generally quite small in comparison with the primary field, these measurements equate very closely with measurement of the in-phase horizontal and quadrature vertical secondary fields. The nominal 100% primary magnitude is determined in an anomaly free zone. 

To avoid interference from aircraft roll, pitch and yaw, field measurements are made with an orthogonal (xyz) array of three antennae. The three directional antennae components are designated as LINE, ORTHO and ERECT; LINE couples maximally with a field in the nominal direction of flight (in-line with flight); ORTHO couples maximally with a field in the nominal direction at 90o to the direction of flight (orthogonal to flight); ERECT couples maximally with a nominally vertical field. 

The field parameters which are actually computed by the TOTEM-2A are determined relative to the principal axis signal, which may be designated as either Line or Ortho. The TOTEM-2A can process VLF signals from two primary field azimuths simultaneously, one in each of the two principal axis channels.

The TOTEM-2A Airborne VLF-EM System.