A reduced order approach for probabilistic inversions of 3-D magnetotelluric data I: general formulation

M. C. Manassero*, J. C. Afonso, F. Zyserman, S. Zlotnik, I. Fomin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


Simulation-based probabilistic inversions of 3-D magnetotelluric (MT) data are arguably the best option to deal with the nonlinearity and non-uniqueness of the MT problem. However, the computational cost associated with the modelling of 3-D MT data has so far precluded the community from adopting and/or pursuing full probabilistic inversions of large MT data sets. In this contribution, we present a novel and general inversion framework, driven by Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms, which combines (i) an efficient parallel-in-parallel structure to solve the 3-D forward problem, (ii) a reduced order technique to create fast and accurate surrogate models of the forward problem and (iii) adaptive strategies for both the MCMC algorithm and the surrogate model. In particular, and contrary to traditional implementations, the adaptation of the surrogate is integrated into the MCMC inversion. This circumvents the need of costly offline stages to build the surrogate and further increases the overall efficiency of the method. We demonstrate the feasibility and performance of our approach to invert for large-scale conductivity structures with two numerical examples using different parametrizations and dimensionalities. In both cases, we report staggering gains in computational efficiency compared to traditional MCMC implementations. Our method finally removes the main bottleneck of probabilistic inversions of 3-D MT data and opens up new opportunities for both stand-alone MT inversions and multi-observable joint inversions for the physical state of the Earth’s interior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1837-1863
Number of pages27
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

This article has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Journal International ©: 2020 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • Composition and structure of the mantle
  • Magnetotellurics
  • Inverse theory
  • Numerical approximations and analysis
  • Numerical modelling


Dive into the research topics of 'A reduced order approach for probabilistic inversions of 3-D magnetotelluric data I: general formulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this