EARTHSCI 361 : Exploration Geophysics


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Introduction to geophysical methods and their applications. The course will provide a comprehensive overview on seismic methods, an introduction to gravity, electric, magnetic, electromagnetic, and radar techniques, and a short overview on other methods. Applications include hydrocarbon exploration, mineral exploration, studies of the shallow sub-surface and the deep Earth. Recommended preparation: Understanding of mathematics covered in MATHS 102 or 110 and geology covered in EARTHSCI 103 or 120 is assumed.

Course Overview

The course provides an introduction into geophysical methods to study the Earth. It consists of two lectures a week, several review lectures, and a two-hour lab. Earthsci 361 is an elective for the BSc Earth Sciences aimed at students with an interest in studying the sub-surface. Geophys 361 is an elective for the BSc in Geophysics in particular for students focusing on Solid Earth Geophysics. We encourage students from neighbouring fields, such as Physics, Environmental Sciences, or Geography, to contact the course coordinator if they are interested in the course but may not meet some prerequisites.
Earthsci 361 and Geophys 361 have joint lectures. However, review lectures, laboratories, and final exams are separate with more focus on practical applications for Earthsci 361 and theoretical background for Geophys 361. In general, students majoring in Earth Science, Environmental Science, Geography, or similar fields should choose Earthsci 361. Students of Geophysics, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Sciences, or similar fields, should enroll in Geophys 361.  In case of doubt, please contact the course coordinator.
This course will provide a geophysics foundation for careers in a wide variety of fields, such as mineral prospecting, geophysical surveying, and engineering geology, as well as post-graduate studies in programmes such as the BSc (hons), PGDIP or MSc in Earth Sciences or Geophysics, as well as the Master of Engineering Geology.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 15 points from EARTHSCI 201-204, 220, GEOLOGY 201-204, 220, PHYSICS 230, 231 Restriction: GEOLOGY 361, GEOPHYS 361

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe the basic principles of geophysical methods including their limitations (Capability 1 and 3)
  2. Identify the appropriate geophysical techniques to apply to common geological targets and situations (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Develop geophysical surveys, and process raw geophysical data to a form that can be interpreted. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Analyse critically data quality and the geophysical and geological significance of the data (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  5. Evaluate geophysical data in reports. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Quizzes 10% Individual Test
Reports 20% Individual Coursework
Practical 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Final Exam

Key Topics

The course will focus on the following methods:
  • Seismic principles; acquisition, processing, and interpretation of seismic data.
  • Gravity methods, including theory, acquisition, and evaluation of gravity measurements.
  • Borehole geophysics, including interpretation of key borehole logs.
  • Introduction to other geophysical methods and applications, such as magnetics, resistivity, electromagnetics, ground-penetrating radar, and engineering geophysics.
Laboratories will focus on evaluation of seismic, borehole, and gravity data. A one-day field trip will provide hands-on experience with acquisition of geophysical data.

Learning Resources

Recommended textbook:  Kearey, P., Brooks, M. and Hill, I. An Introduction to Geophysical Exploration (3rd edition) Blackwell. 2002 
In addition, for Geophys 361: Lowrie, W., Fundamentals of Geophysics (2nd edition), Cambridge University Press. 2007. 
Both available as e-books from the library.
Further recommendations provided during the course.

Special Requirements

One-day field trip is compulsory.  Students who are approved to take this course remotely will have alternative arrangements made.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 28 hours of lectures, 20 hours tutorials, an 8 hour field trip, 46 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 48 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Minor changes to individual classes, further expansion of engineering geophysics, decreasing amount of assessed coursework in second half.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 17/07/2020 04:02 p.m.