Getting started

The code emg3d ([WeMS19]) is a three-dimensional modeller for electromagnetic (EM) diffusion as used, for instance, in controlled-source EM (CSEM) surveys frequently applied in the search for, amongst other, groundwater, hydrocarbons, and minerals.

The core of the code is primarily based on [Muld06], [Muld07], and [Muld08]. You can read more about the background of the code in the chapter Credits. An introduction to the underlying theory of multigrid methods is given in the chapter Theory, and further literature is provided in the References.


You can install emg3d either via conda:

conda install -c conda-forge emg3d

or via pip:

pip install emg3d

Minimum requirements are Python version 3.7 or higher and the modules scipy and numba. Various other packages are recommended or required for some advanced functionalities, namely:

  • xarray: For the Survey class (many sources and receivers at once).
  • discretize: For advanced meshing tools (fancy mesh-representations and plotting utilities).
  • matplotlib: To use the plotting utilities within discretize.
  • h5py: Save and load data in the HDF5 format.
  • empymod: Time-domain modelling (utils.Fourier).
  • scooby: For the version and system report (emg3d.Report()).

If you are new to Python we recommend using a Python distribution, which will ensure that all dependencies are met, specifically properly compiled versions of NumPy and SciPy; we recommend using Anaconda. If you install Anaconda you can simply start the Anaconda Navigator, add the channel conda-forge and emg3d will appear in the package list and can be installed with a click.

Using NumPy and SciPy with the Intel Math Kernel Library (mkl) can significantly improve computation time. You can check if mkl is used via conda list: The entries for the BLAS and LAPACK libraries should contain something with mkl, not with openblas. To enforce it you might have to create a file pinned, containing the line libblas[build=*mkl] in the folder path-to-your-conda-env/conda-meta/.

Basic Example

Here we show a very basic example. To see some more realistic models have a look at the gallery. This particular example is also there, with some further explanations and examples to show how to plot the model and the data; see «Minimum working example». It also contains an example without using discretize.

First, we load emg3d and discretize (to create a mesh), along with numpy:

>>> import emg3d
>>> import discretize
>>> import numpy as np

First, we define the mesh (see discretize.TensorMesh for more info). In reality, this task requires some careful considerations. E.g., to avoid edge effects, the mesh should be large enough in order for the fields to dissipate, yet fine enough around source and receiver to accurately model them. This grid is too small, but serves as a minimal example.

>>> grid = discretize.TensorMesh(
>>>         [[(25, 10, -1.04), (25, 28), (25, 10, 1.04)],
>>>          [(50, 8, -1.03), (50, 16), (50, 8, 1.03)],
>>>          [(30, 8, -1.05), (30, 16), (30, 8, 1.05)]],
>>>         x0='CCC')
>>> print(grid)

  TensorMesh: 49,152 cells

                      MESH EXTENT             CELL WIDTH      FACTOR
  dir    nC        min           max         min       max      max
  ---   ---  ---------------------------  ------------------  ------
   x     48       -662.16        662.16     25.00     37.01    1.04
   y     32       -857.96        857.96     50.00     63.34    1.03
   z     32       -540.80        540.80     30.00     44.32    1.05

Next we define a very simple fullspace model with \(\rho_x=1.5\,\Omega\,\text{m}\), \(\rho_y=1.8\,\Omega\,\text{m}\), and \(\rho_z=3.3\,\Omega\,\text{m}\). The source is an x-directed dipole at the origin, with a 10 Hz signal of 1 A.

>>> model = emg3d.models.Model(
>>>     grid, property_x=1.5, property_y=1.8, property_z=3.3)
>>> sfield = emg3d.fields.get_source_field(
>>>     grid, src=[0, 0, 0, 0, 0], freq=10.0)

Now we can compute the electric field with emg3d:

>>> efield = emg3d.solve(grid, model, sfield, verb=4)

:: emg3d START :: 15:24:40 :: v0.13.0

   MG-cycle       : 'F'                 sslsolver : False
   semicoarsening : False [0]           tol       : 1e-06
   linerelaxation : False [0]           maxit     : 50
   nu_{i,1,c,2}   : 0, 2, 1, 2          verb      : 3
   Original grid  :  48 x  32 x  32     => 49,152 cells
   Coarsest grid  :   3 x   2 x   2     => 12 cells
   Coarsest level :   4 ;   4 ;   4

   [hh:mm:ss]  rel. error                  [abs. error, last/prev]   l s

      2h_ \                  /
      4h_  \          /\    /
      8h_   \    /\  /  \  /
     16h_    \/\/  \/    \/

   [11:18:17]   2.623e-02  after   1 F-cycles   [1.464e-06, 0.026]   0 0
   [11:18:17]   2.253e-03  after   2 F-cycles   [1.258e-07, 0.086]   0 0
   [11:18:17]   3.051e-04  after   3 F-cycles   [1.704e-08, 0.135]   0 0
   [11:18:17]   5.500e-05  after   4 F-cycles   [3.071e-09, 0.180]   0 0
   [11:18:18]   1.170e-05  after   5 F-cycles   [6.531e-10, 0.213]   0 0
   [11:18:18]   2.745e-06  after   6 F-cycles   [1.532e-10, 0.235]   0 0
   [11:18:18]   6.873e-07  after   7 F-cycles   [3.837e-11, 0.250]   0 0

   > MG cycles        : 7
   > Final rel. error : 6.873e-07

:: emg3d END   :: 15:24:42 :: runtime = 0:00:02

So the computation required seven multigrid F-cycles and took just a bit more than 2 seconds. It was able to coarsen in each dimension four times, where the input grid had 49,152 cells, and the coarsest grid had 12 cells.

Tips and Tricks

The function emg3d.solver.solve() is the main entry point, and it takes care whether multigrid is used as a solver or as a preconditioner (or not at all), while the actual multigrid solver is emg3d.solver.multigrid(). Most input parameters for emg3d.solver.solve() are sufficiently described in its docstring. Here a few additional information.

  • You can input any three-dimensional tensor mesh into emg3d. However, the implemented multigrid technique works with the existing nodes, meaning there are no new nodes created as coarsening is done by combining adjacent cells. The more times the grid dimension can be divided by two the better it is suited for MG. Ideally, the number should be dividable by two a few times and the dimension of the coarsest grid should be a low prime number \(p\), for which good sizes can then be computed with \(p 2^n\). Good grid sizes (in each direction) up to 1024 are

    • \(2·2^{3, 4, ..., 9}\): 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024,
    • \(3·2^{3, 4, ..., 8}\): 24, 48, 96, 192, 384, 768,
    • \(5·2^{3, 4, ..., 7}\): 40, 80, 160, 320, 640,
    • \(7·2^{3, 4, ..., 7}\): 56, 112, 224, 448, 896,

    and preference decreases from top to bottom row (stick to the first two or three rows if possible). Good grid sizes in sequential order, excluding p=7: 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 64, 80, 96, 128, 160, 192, 256, 320, 384, 512, 640, 768, 1024. You can get this list via emg3d.meshes.good_mg_cell_nr().

  • The multigrid method can be used as a solver or as a preconditioner, for instance for BiCGSTAB. Using multigrid as a preconditioner for BiCGSTAB together with semicoarsening and line relaxation is the most stable version, but expensive, and therefore only recommended on highly stretched grids. Which combination of solver is best (fastest) depends to a large extent on the grid stretching, but also on anisotropy and general model complexity. See «Parameter tests» in the gallery for an example how to run some tests on your particular problem.

Contributing and Roadmap

New contributions, bug reports, or any kind of feedback is always welcomed! Have a look at the Roadmap-project to get an idea of things that could be implemented. The GitHub issues and PR’s are also a good starting point. The best way for interaction is at or by joining the Slack channel «em-x-d» of SimPEG. If you prefer to get in touch outside of GitHub/Slack use the contact form on

To install emg3d from source, you can download the latest version from GitHub and install it in your python distribution via:

python install

Please make sure your code follows the pep8-guidelines by using, for instance, the python module flake8, and also that your code is covered with appropriate tests. Just get in touch if you have any doubts.

Tests and benchmarks

The modeller comes with a test suite using pytest. If you want to run the tests, just install pytest and run it within the emg3d-top-directory.

> pytest --cov=emg3d --flake8

It should run all tests successfully. Please let us know if not!

Note that installations of em3gd via conda or pip do not have the test-suite included. To run the test-suite you must download emg3d from GitHub.

There is also a benchmark suite using airspeed velocity, located in the empymod/emg3d-asv-repository. The results of my machine can be found in the empymod/emg3d-bench, its rendered version at


Copyright 2018-2020 The emg3d Developers.

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the “License”); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.