Geophysicists study the structure and composition of zones below the surface of the earth by taking measurements using seismic, gravity, magnetic and electrical data collection methods.

Duties & Tasks

Geophysicists may perform the following tasks:

  • supervise the collection and processing of seismic data for petroleum exploration, and interpret and map prospects on which to drill a well
  • plan, conduct and interpret geophysical surveys in exploring for mineral commodities such as gold, base metals, diamonds and coal using various electrical techniques and magnetic or gravity surveys
  • design, develop and operate computer systems and software for processing and interpreting geophysical data sets
  • plan, conduct and interpret geophysical surveys to locate and estimate quantities of recoverable groundwater reserves, the distribution and extent of salinity in agricultural areas or the extent of pollution in the ground or atmosphere
  • carry out geophysical surveys of areas prior to the construction of major engineering structures such as dams, bridges or roads
  • study earthquakes and earthquake risk, time variations and the distribution of the earth's magnetic and gravity fields, the physics of rocks and minerals, and fluid dynamics of molten rock (magma), oceans and atmosphere
  • research new methods and instrumentation
  • develop instrumentation for taking physical measurements in surveys, including gravity meters, magnetometers, seismic recorders, radiometric systems, and electrical, electromagnetic and radar transmitters and receivers
  • develop mathematical models as an aid to interpreting geophysical survey results.

Working Conditions

Geophysicists often work as part of a team of geoscientists. Some carry out fieldwork, which may involve a lot of travel, often to remote areas.

Personal Requirements

  • enjoy technical and engineering work
  • alert and analytical mind
  • enjoy applying physics and mathematics in practical ways
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • able to work independently or as part of a team
  • willing to work in remote areas.

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