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Self Potential (SP) Survey

Self Potentials (SP) are measurements of the difference in natural electric potentials between two points on the ground surface. The natural electric currents responsible for these potentials can be generated by a number of different sources, including groundwater flow, mineral deposits and chemical diffusion. The magnitude of the self-potentials can range from less than one millivolt to over one volt, and the polarity of the potential is a diagnostic factor in the interpretation of SP anomalies. Although there are many sources of natural potentials, the common thread is groundwater. Potentials are typically generated by water flow or by the incorporation of water into natural chemical reactions.

SP Method Application Areas

  • Hydrogeological Investigations (e.g. groundwater flow stability, contaminant mass transport)
  • Leak detection in reservoirs and dams
  • Geothermal Research
  • Locating massive sulphide ore bodies


  • Elrec Terra 96 /SuperSting R8 84 Channel
  • Voltmeter

Two porous pot electrodes containing a solution of copper sulfate are typically used throughout the research. These are connected by copper wires to a voltmeter. The survey uses a reference electrode and a wick electrode held in a fixed location.