Geophysicist, exploration

Studies the physical structure of the earth in search of risks and resources and to build a greater understanding of the geological processes affecting the world.

Job description

Geophysicists combine the sciences of geology and physics to locate resources such as oil and gas, and to predict natural disasters like earthquakes. They employ the principles and techniques of geology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering and other scientific disciplines to perform tests and determine the structure and composition of the earth. Exploration geophysicists use this understanding to look for deposits of petroleum and valuable minerals. Sometimes called geophysical prospectors, they use seismic techniques to look for possible oil and gas deposits and measure and chart the sound waves created by explosions.

The information they obtain from their tests and equipment readings helps them to determine the kinds and patterns of rock beneath the surface. Readings taken from devices that measure magnetic forces also help geophysicists find out what is under the ground and sea.

Exploration geophysicists will typically be employed by gas and oil companies to identify, analyse and assess the suitability of mining sites and to advise on safety, as well as environmental and political issues.

Work activities

  • Using highly complex instruments designed to take very precise measurements.
  • Using sonar equipment to send sound waves deep into the earth to estimate if an oil deposit lies hidden in the area.
  • Reporting to the client company a portfolio of ranked prospects or recommending that there are no economically drillable prospects left in the acreage.

Work conditions

Travel: a regular part of the working day including overnight absence from home.
Location: throughout the county.
Opportunities for self-employment: possible to work as a freelance geologist or in a private practice.