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Unit information: Applied Geophysics in 2018/19

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Unit name Applied Geophysics
Unit code EASC20042
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Professor. Wookey
Open unit status Not open

Mandatory year 1 units of an Environmental Geoscience, Geology or Geophysics programme at Bristol.



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


Applied Geophysics aims to provide students with an overview of the geophysical techniques commonly used to solve applied problems in the shallow subsurface. The unit will cover gravity, magnetic, seismic, electrical and electromagnetic techniques. For each technique the basic underlying theory, relevant subsurface properties, targets, instrumentation, acquisition, data processing and interpretation will be covered. Several case studies for each demonstrating the technique’s utility will be provided, spanning application areas including natural hazards, natural resources, and engineering and archaeological site investigations.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the course, the students will:

  • Understand the physics and mathematics underpinning a range of geophysical techniques and data types.
  • Understand which geophysical techniques (and combinations of techniques) are appropriate to a range of applied problems.
  • Be familiar with the common applications of geophysical surveying.
  • Be able to apply basic processing to geophysical data in MATLAB/Excel and understand the purpose of more advanced processing.
  • Provide preliminary interpretations on a range of geophysical data type and evaluate other people’s interpretations.

Teaching details

Lectures and practicals (including 1 field-based practical)

Assessment Details

100% coursework comprising a geophysical survey report (~10 pages, plus 10-15 figures) which will contain both group-based and individual elements.

For example, each student in a group (of 4-6 students) might process and document a different geophysical datatype, and contribute a section including figure to the methods and results sections. The whole group will then contribute to an holistic interpretation section bringing together all of the data to answer the survey objectives. Each student’s final mark will be based on the quality of the overall report (70%), and the individual data section they wrote (30%).

Attendance at practicals (including the field-based practical) is mandatory in order to gain credit points for the unit as these will feed directly into the coursework. Formative feedback will be given in practical classes.

Reading and References


  • Kearey, P., Brooks, M. & Hill, I., 2002. An Introduction to Geophysical Exploration. 3rd edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications Ltd., Oxford.

Further reading:

  • Mussett A.E. & Khan M.A., Looking into the Earth, Cambridge, 2000.
  • Telford, W. M., et al., Applied Geophysics, Cambridge, 1990.