Definition: Self-Potential (SP)

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Self-Potential (SP)

The self-potential (SP) technique is a passive electrical geophysical method based upon the measurement of spontaneous or natural electrical potential developed in the earth due to: 1) electrochemical interactions between minerals and subsurface fluids; 2) electrokinetic processes resulting from the flow of ionic fluids; or 3) thermoelectric mechanisms from temperature gradients in the subsurface.[1][2]

Wikipedia Definition

Spontaneous potential (SP), also called self potential, is a naturally occurring electric potential difference in the Earth, measured by an electrode relative to a fixed reference electrode. Spontaneous potentials are often measured down boreholes for formation evaluation in the oil and gas industry, and they can also be measured along the Earth's surface for mineral exploration or groundwater investigation. The phenomenon and its application to geology was first recognized by Conrad Schlumberger, Marcel Schlumberger, and E.G. Leonardon in 1931, and the first published examples were from Romanian oil fields.

Also Known As
Spontaneous Potential
Related Terms
streaming potentialelectrofiltration potentialthermoelectric potentialelectromical potential
  1. Corwin, R.F. and Hoover, D.B. "The self-potential method in geothermal exploration." Geophysics. Vol. 44. No. 2 February, 1979: 226-245.
  2. Sharma, P.V. "Self-potential surveying." In Environmental and engineering geophysics, by P.V. Sharma, 190-206. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.