GEOPHYS 361 : Fundamentals and Applications of Geophysical Exploration


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The fundamentals of geophysical exploration methods and their application. The course will provide a comprehensive overview of seismic techniques, geophysical borehole methods, and an introduction to gravity, electric, magnetic, electromagnetic, and radar techniques. Applications of these will be considered including hydrocarbon, mineral and geothermal exploration. Geophysical data will be acquired and analysed through field and laboratory work.

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 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, to contact the course coordinator if they are interested in the course but may not meet some per-requisites.
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 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 103, 120, GEOLOGY 103, and GEOPHYS 213 or PHYSICS 213 and MATHS 208 or equivalent Restriction: EARTHSCI 361, GEOLOGY 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. Demonstrate an understanding of of 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; theory, acquisition, processing, and interpretation of seismic data.
  • Gravity methods, including theory, acquisition, and interpretation 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.

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.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including labs to complete components of the course. 

Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs will not be available as recordings. 

The course will not include live online events including group discussions/tutorials. 

Attendance on campus is required for both test and exam. 

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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

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.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1:  Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode. 
Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person.  All teaching and assessment will have a remote option.  The following activities will also have an on campus / in person option: Lectures, labs.   
Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely.

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 16/02/2021 10:45 a.m.