Geophysicists study the earth using a variety of methods, including gravitational, magnetic, electrical, and seismic. They may work independently or as important members of a geoscience team. Positions vary in responsibility, location, and content. Some geophysicists spend most of their time working indoors, using computers for data modeling and calculations. Others work outdoors doing earth studies, including those who use their skills to find resources such as oil, copper, iron, and other minerals.
Work may also include research to study the structure of the earth and determine how it has evolved, or to study other physical aspects of the earth, such as earthquakes or the ocean. Some geophysicists work on studies of the earth’s properties related to environmental hazards. Still others may do evaluation studies to determine if proposed sites are suitable for construction projects, such as dams and power plants. A typical day could be quite varied, depending on the position. Outdoor studies might include field trips to various locations to conduct onsite surveys. Geophysicists could be called on to attend conferences to discuss their findings with other scientists.
A minimum education requirement for geophysicists is a bachelor’s degree in geophysics, physical sciences, earth sciences, or related discipline. Excellent written and oral communications skills are a key qualification, as well as the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
Review and write contracts and specifications for geophysical work, including budgets and timelines.
Create and verify seismic, AVO, and other types of models to assess feasibility, safety, and returns.
Use software to create and interpret 2- and 3-dimensional geophysical data to identify and evaluate sites.
Generate prospective locations, recommend coordinates, and document assumptions and calculations.