Physical parameters activating electrical signal distortions in polluted soils

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G. Losito
R. Angelini


Laboratory investigations and field measurements show that the electrical behaviour of polluted soils is strongly non-linear at low frequencies. This phenomenon can be related to the class and the amount of pollutants. To measure this non-linearity, we used only monochromatic voltage waveform as input signal and analysed the current signals at first by means of the classical spectral analysis. In particular, the Total Harmonic Distortion % (THD%) and the Harmonic Distortion %(?) measure the non-linearity level and identify the frequency interval where the non-linear electrical behaviour is activated. This frequency interval can be related to the pollutant molecular size. Open interpretative problems were the following: 1) phase localization of the signal deformation; 2) «local» amplitude of the applied signal activating the distortion, and 3) numerical fit of the distortion. We employed the wavelet analysis to study the phenomenon. The wavelet technique breaks up a signal into shifted and scaled versions of the original wavelet, which is a waveform of limited duration. These features of the wavelets allow us to obtain current components that can be interpreted on the bases of a real physical meaning. By using the wavelet analysis, we obtained the phase localization of the oscillations of the details and consequently the phase and amplitude of the applied signal. The sum of nine details provides a good numerical fit of the distorted signal. Starting from the wavelet analysis, we determined the physical conditions activating each distortion, testing some parameters on experimental data. The parameters that resulted most significant are the phase ? of the distortion activation and the product Vin?t (Vs) (where ?t is the time interval corresponding to the said ? and Vin is the integral tension applied to the sample on ?t). The latter parameter is in a very good agreement with field data of Advanced Monochromatic Spectral Induced Polarization (AMSIP) and restricts the physical interpretative hypotheses of distorted signals that are measured in the field. Typical experimental results will be shown as examples.

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Losito G, Angelini R. Physical parameters activating electrical signal distortions in polluted soils. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2002Dec.25 [cited 2022Aug.8];45(2). Available from:

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