Static distortion of magnetotelluric data is a common effect that can impede the reliable imaging of subsurface structures. Recently we presented an inversion approach that includes a mathematical description of the effect of static distortion as inversion parameters and demonstrated its efficiency with real data. We now systematically investigate the stability of this inversion approach with respect to different inversion strategies, starting models and model parametrizations. We utilize a dataset of 310 magnetotelluric sites that has been acquired for geothermal exploration. In addition, to impedance tensor estimates over a broad frequency range, the dataset also comprises transient electromagnetic measurements to determine near surface conductivity and estimates of distortion at each site. We therefore can compare our inversion approach to these distortion estimates and the resulting inversion models. Our experiments show that inversion with distortion correction produces stable results for various different inversion strategies and for different starting models. Compared to inversion without distortion correction, we can reproduce the observed data better and reduce subsurface artefacts. In contrast, shifting the impedance curves at high frequencies to match the transient electromagnetic measurements reduces the misfit of the starting model, but does not have a strong impact on the final results. Thus our results suggest that including a description of distortion in the inversion is more efficient and should become a standard approach for magnetotelluric inversion.
In an active volcanic arc, magmatically sourced fluids are channeled through the brittle crust by structural features. This interaction is observed in the Andean volcanic mountain belt, where volcanoes, geothermal springs and the locations of major mineral deposits coincide with NNE-striking, convergent margin-parallel faults and margin-oblique, NW/SE-striking Andean Transverse Faults (ATF). The Tinguiririca and Planchón-Peteroa volcanoes in the Andean Southern Volcanic Zone (SVZ) demonstrate this relationship, as both volcanic complexes and their spatially associated thermal springs show strike alignment to the outcropping NNE oriented El Fierro Thrust Fault System. This study aims to constrain the 3D architecture of this fault system and its interaction with volcanically sourced hydrothermal fluids from a combined magnetotelluric (MT) and seismicity survey. The 3D conductivity model and seismic hypocenter locations show correlations between strong conductivity contrasts and seismic clusters in the top 10km of the crust. This includes a distinct WNW-striking seismogenic feature which has characteristics of the ATF domains. As the surveyed region is characterized by high heat flow regimes, volcanic activity and hydrothermal systems related to the volcanic arc, the conductivity contrast suggests that magmatically derived fluids meet an impenetrable barrier, most likely the sealed core of the fault. The resulting increase in hydrostatic fluid pressure facilitates seismic activity on this WNW oriented structure. These results provides the first observation of the mechanism behind the reactivation and seismogenesis of ATF. The study also uncovers the role of the ATF the compartmentalization of magmatic-derived fluids that accumulate to form hydrothermal reservoirs in the SVZ.