Geophysical    Engineering
Geophysical Engineering
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Elements   of   Geophysics

GEOP 302

Lecture: Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10:00am-11:50am at ELC 106

Instructor: Dr. Xiaobing Zhou, Email:, Tel: 496-4350

Office Hours: M/W/F 4:00 -5:00 pm, ELC 304

Textbook (required): Burger, R. H., A. F. Sheehan, and C. H. Jones, Introduction to Applied Geophysics: Exploring the Shallow Subsurface, W W Norton & Company, June 2006. . You can purchase it at Montana Tech bookstore or online

References (recommended):

  • Kearey, P., and M. Brooks, An Introduction to Geophysical Exploration, 3rd edition, Blackwell Science, Inc., 2002.

  • Mussett, A. E., and M. A. Khan, Looking into the Earth : An Introduction to Geological Geophysics, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

  • Reynolds, J., An Introduction to Applied and Environmental Geophysics, John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., 1997.

  • Parasnis, D. S., Principles of Applied Geophysics, 5th Edition, Kluwer Boston, Inc., 1997.

  • Telford, W. M., L. P. Geldart, R. E. Sheriff, and D. A. Keys, Applied Geophysics, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, 1990.

  • Milsom, J., Field Geophysics, Open University Press, 1989.

  • Robinson, E. S., C. Coruh, Basic Exploration Geophysics, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1988.

  • Griffiths, D. H., and R. F. King, Applied Geophysics for Geologists & Engineers, 2nd edition, Oxford ; New York : Pergamon Press, 1981.

  • Introduction to Geophysical Exploration

Glossary of geophysics

Course Description:

Principles of physics applied to geology, earth and environmental sciences, with emphasis on exploration of the shallow subsurface (~500 m). Topics include seismic method, electrical resistivity and electrical method, gravity, magnetic method, ground penetrating radar, and remote sensing. Geophysical instrumentation, data acquisition and analysis, and geologic interpretation of geophysical data. This course is for students who want to be practicing civil engineers, geologists, archaeologists, and environmental practitioners and/or scientists who need an knowledge and skills of modern geophysical methods relevant to their disciplines.

  • Probing the subsurface
  • Fundamentals of seismic exploration
  • Seismic refraction method
  • Seismic reflection method
  • Electrical resistivity method
  • Exploration using gravity
  • Magnetic field method
  • 1) To develop an understanding of the basic theory of each geophysical methods: seismic, electrical, gravitational, magnetic, and ground penetrating radar methods;
  • 2) To develop an understanding of the principles of instrumentation for each method;
  • 3) To develop the skills to measure the physical properties of the Earth materials using these methods;
  • 4) To develop the capability to interpret the field data and apply these methods.

Course outcomings (complying with ABET A-K):
After this course, you should have
A. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
K. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

Grade Policy: The final grade for the course will be determined approximately as follows:
  • Homework:    20%
  • Lab:                10%
  • 3-5 Tests:      70%

Grading scale observes: A=(92,100], A-=[90, 92], B+=(87, 90), B=[83, 87], B-=[80, 83), C+=(77, 80), C=[73, 77], C-=[70, 73), D+=(67, 70), D=[63, 67], D-=[60, 63), F=[0, 60). [ or ] means inclusive, ( or ) means exclusive. Also: A= 4.0, A-=3.7, B+=3.3, B=3.0, B-=2.7, C+=2.3, C=2.0, C-=1.7, D+=1.3, D=1.0, D-=0.7, F=0.


Homework will be assigned on Wednesday and due the following Wednesday. Some assignment will involve the use of computer programs. Group discussing is encouraged but copying answers from others is prohibited. Copied homework will be graded as “zero” or “F” for both parties.

  1. Gravimeter; Micro-g LaCoste;
  2. Magnetometers (1, 2, 3,);
  3. Electrical/electromagnetic equipment for resistivity (resistivity meter or electrode, ammeter, voltmeter, EM34-3
  4. etc.);
  5. Seismic systems (geophone or seismometer, seismic cable, seismograph unit, etc.)
  6. Geophysical Instrument Instructions


Tentative schedule:

Date   Day   Lecture/Lab No.   Topic   Homework  
Read assignment pages  
Lecture 1
Lecture 2
Lecture 3
Introduction to geophysical methods
Wave propagation/Elastic coefficients
Seismic waves/wave velocities
7-14 (HW#1)
Lecture 4
Lecture 5
Lecture 6
Huygen's/Fermat's principles/Snell's law
Critical refraction/ waves measured by a geophone
Energy partition/sources/equipment
28-39 (HW#2)