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Data from Voytek et al. (2016), Identifying hydrologic flowpaths on arctic hillslopes using electrical resistivity and self potential

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Created: Jun 18, 2023 at 3:09 p.m.
Last updated: Sep 14, 2023 at 3:55 p.m.
DOI: 10.4211/hs.40b53984c1424a7a84eb605883b4d39a
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Sharing Status: Published
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Shallow subsurface flow is a dominant process controlling hillslope runoff generation, soil development, and solute reaction and transport. Despite their importance, the location and geometry of these flowpaths are difficult to determine. In arctic environments, shallow subsurface flowpaths are limited to a thin zone of seasonal thaw above permafrost, which is traditionally assumed to mimic surface topography. Here we use a combined approach of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and self-potential measurements (SP) to map shallow subsurface flowpaths in and around water tracks, drainage features common to arctic hillslopes. ERT measurements delineate thawed zones in the subsurface that control flowpaths, while SP is sensitive to groundwater flow. We find that areas of low electrical resistivity in the water tracks are deeper than manual thaw depth estimates and vary from surface topography. This finding suggests that traditional techniques may underestimate active layer thaw and the extent of the flowpath network on arctic hillslopes. SP measurements identify complex 3-D flowpaths in the thawed zone. Our results lay the groundwork for investigations into the seasonal dynamics, hydrologic connectivity, and climate sensitivity of spatially distributed flowpath networks on arctic hillslopes.

Subject Keywords



Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
Toolik Field Station Area


Start Date:
End Date:



Data for Water Tracks (WT) 1 and WT6 from Voytek et al. (2016).  These folders include three datasets: 1) frost probe data, measured manually in the field to estimate depth of permafrost, 2) self potential (SP) data measured manually with a Fluke voltmeter and SDEC SP electrodes, and 3) electrical resistivity (ER) data measured with an IRIS Syscal Pro on homemade cables/electrodes given limitation on helicopter weights. Each dataset is explained below.

1) Elevation/frost probe file (WT#_FrostProbeData.xls).  These spreadsheets include the grid (in local and UTM coordinates) of our frost probe data.  The columns are the ground surface elevation (from surveying, where  GC is "ground control", a known elevation we tied into during elevation survey) and frost table elevation, which is the elevation of the frost table from frost probing.  Together, these two provide the thickness of the layer where water can move.

2) SP data file (WT#_SP.csv). SP datasets including UTM and local coordinates.  The error was estimated by comparison of duplicate measurements made during the course of the SP surveys. The median error between repeat measurements at WT1 and 6 was 1.5 mV.

3) ER data collected by an IRIS Syscal Pro (inside the WT#_ER folder), including data in .csv files (for WT1) and protocol.dat files used as inputs for the R2 inversion program (WT1 and WT6 both). The headers on the IRIS-exported .csv files (for WT1 only) are: 

El-array (array type)	Spa.1 (location of A electrode)	Spa.2 (location of B electrode)	Spa.3 (location of M electrode)	Spa.4 (location of N electrode)	Dev. (Error in %)	Sp (self potential)  	Vp  (measured change in voltage, in mV)	In (injected current, in mA)  	Time between measurements, in ms	Rs-Check (contact resistance in k-ohm)	Tx-Bat (transmitter battery voltage in V)	Rx-Bat	(receiver battery voltage in mV) Temp. in degrees C	Date/Time

For WT6, the input AND output inversion files are provided, and include a depth of investigation exploration (see Oldenburg and Li, 1999) are included, so there are inversion files in three folders (hi, me and lo) for inversions with high, medium, and low starting guesses.

Related Resources

This resource is described by Voytek, E., Rushlow, C., Godsey, S., Singha, K. (2016). Identifying hydrologic flowpaths on arctic hillslopes using electrical resistivity and self potential. Geophysics, 81(1), WA225-WA232.



People or Organizations that contributed technically, materially, financially, or provided general support for the creation of the resource's content but are not considered authors.

Name Organization Address Phone Author Identifiers
Sarah Godsey Idaho State University Idaho, US 2082823170

How to Cite

Voytek, E., K. Singha (2023). Data from Voytek et al. (2016), Identifying hydrologic flowpaths on arctic hillslopes using electrical resistivity and self potential, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoCommercial CC BY-NC.


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