Careers in Geoscience: Geophysics
Geophysicists are employed by organisations in many different sectors of industry, government including environment, mineral exploration, oil and gas and others. They are specialist geologists dealing in geophysical effects and responses to a wide range of phenomena. Geophysical data is often collected using aerial as well as ground and seaborne surveys. The types of data collected may include electrical, magnetic, seismic, gravity, radar and topographic information. Some examples of the fields in which geophysicist may work are looking for the geophysical responses of ore deposits, coal and oil and gas resources, studying the geophysical characteristics of certain rock types or geological situations and the measurement and implications for geological and environmental hazards, agriculture, the characterisation and assessment of engineering sites or underground water supplies. Research geophysicists use similar techniques to study the internal structure of the earth and particularly aspects of the earth’s crust including earthquakes, vulcanicity, tectonic plate movements and other phenomena. Geophysical work is often divided into the specialist roles of;
- data collection carried out by specialist contracting organisations involving a majority of site based work and
- data analysis and modelling specialties generally carried out by specialist consultants mostly office based with irregular site visits.
Geophysicists study the structure and composition of parts of the earth's crust by measuring the physical properties of rocks and minerals and their response in electrical, magnetic, gravitational fields and to seismic events/stimulation. These measurements can be taken using aerial, seaborne or ground based surveys utilising sophisticated instruments. Analysis and modelling of the resultant data involves specialist computing programs and knowledge.
Typical duties include:
- Planning scientific studies, visiting field locations, and collecting samples
- Analysing physical properties of samples in the laboratory
- Carrying out of aerial, seaborne and ground based surveys
- Supervising the quality of surveys and data collected by 3rd parties on behalf of the client organisation
- Analysing and modelling of geophysical data using specialist 2D and 3D computer applications
- Guiding mineral, coal and oil/gas exploration using geophysical data
- Contributing to the optimal extraction of natural resources and to environmental management policies
- Measuring and analysing geophysical properties in relation to geological and environmental hazards, in agriculture and in engineering sites or underground water supplies
- Contributing to natural resource use and environmental management policies
- Preparing reports for clients, government, local councils etc.
The job carries a high level of responsibility, as the employee must ensure the accuracy, integrity of information and forecasts – initiating extraction processes is often very expensive, geological hazards can offer serious risks to communities and mistakes in any areas can be costly. Consequently, training is an important feature of the job.
Typical skills required are:
- Knowledge of a range of sciences and their applications
- Solid grounding in applied geology generally favourable
- Problem solving skills, analytical skills
- Ability to work within a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers
- Good organisational skills
- Sound background and knowledge of mathematics and physics
- Computer literacy and ability to analyse numerical and graphical data
- Ability to think and visualise in 3D
- Good written and verbal communication skills.