EGU21-3399, updated on 03 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Detection of soil pipe network by electromagnetic induction (EMI) in relation to the high resolution UAV data

Anita Bernatek-Jakiel1, Marta Kondracka2, and Maciej Liro3
Anita Bernatek-Jakiel et al.
  • 1Jagiellonian University, Institute of Geography and Spatial Management, Department of Geomorphology, Krakow, Poland (
  • 2Institute of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Silesia in Katowice, Katowice, Poland
  • 3Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, Poland

Subsurface erosion by soil piping is a widespread land degradation process that occurs in different soil types around the world. Recent studies have shown that piping erosion may lead to the significant soil loss and disturbances of ground surface. This process accelerates also gully erosion. However, it is still omitted in hydrological models of a catchment, as well as in soil and water erosion models. It seems that the main problem in soil piping studies lies on the basic issue, i.e., the detection of subsurface tunnels (soil pipes). As geophysical methods enable the exploration below the ground surface, they are promising in soil piping studies.


This study aims to evaluate the suitability of the electromagnetic induction (EMI) to detect subsurface network of soil pipes. The detailed study was conducted in the small catchment (Cisowiec) in the Bieszczady Mts. (the Eastern Carpathians, SE Poland), where pipes develop in Cambisols. The measurements were carried out using a conductivity meter EM38-MK2 (Geonics) in both vertical and horizontal measuring dipole orientations. The EM38-MK2 provided simultaneous measurements of apparent electrical conductivity with two transmitter receiver coil separation (0.5 m and 1 m). In order to compare subsurface data with the surface response (i.e., depressions and collapses), the high resolution DEM and orthophotos have been produced. These data have been prepared using Structure from Motion (SfM) technique based on the images taken from the low altitude by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV; DJI Phantom-4 equipped with a 1' camera). The UAV-derived products (orthophotos and DEM) have the resolution of 0.014 x 0.014 m and point density of 9240 per 1 m2.


The EMI results are presented on the maps that gathered data at three depths (0.4 m, 0.75 m, 1.5 m). The results revealed the soil pipes as areas characterized by higher electrical conductivity than the surroundings. The spatial distribution of subsurface tunnels corresponds with the ground depressions and collapses detected in the field and seen on the high resolution DEM and orthophoto. The use of EMI in piping research has been evaluated.


The study is supported by the National Science Centre, Poland within the first author’s project SONATINA 1 (2017/24/C/ST10/00114).

How to cite: Bernatek-Jakiel, A., Kondracka, M., and Liro, M.: Detection of soil pipe network by electromagnetic induction (EMI) in relation to the high resolution UAV data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3399,, 2021.

Corresponding presentation materials formerly uploaded have been withdrawn.