The advancement of humanitarian geophysics in Southeast Asia: A student-based approach

Geoscientists Without Borders
Water Management Projects

Some five million people live in the greater Lake Tanganyika watershed, and this population faces extreme poverty, disease, and the effects of environmental degradation associated with unregulated development.

In January, 2010, Boise State University conducted one of the first Geoscientists Without Borders projects. The intent was to connect geophysicists and students between South East Asia and the North America. Participants included 79 students from 17 institutes representing 11 countries. Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professionals and faculty, gained hands-on experience with geophysical data acquisition, processing, and interpretation while students produced reports that address local environmental and engineering problems.

The field sites selected encompassed groundwater, archaeology and earthquake hazards challenges. Students were introduced to a combination of seismic (reflection, MASW, refraction), ground penetrating radar, electrical, gravity, and magnetic methods that addressed the local geotechnical problems.

The ultimate goal was to create a self-sustaining geophysics field program by training faculty and students, and utilizing geophysical equipment that presently exists in Southeast Asia. Students and Faculty from all over Southeast Asia were offered scholarship-based participation in an effort to impact the entire region. A strong participation by the Boise State University SEG Chapter and SEG Chapters throughout Southeast Asia strengthened ties between universities and encouraged other institutions to initiate SEG student chapters.

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Statement of Work

79 students from 11 different countries, including five countries in Southeast Asia developed the knowledge and skills to directly address humanitarian issues in their countries using geophysics.

Results of the Mae Jo site revealed that faults that offset strata and influence groundwater may be active. Local authorities were apprised and further investigation recommended.

Results of the Wiang Kum Kam student revealed new buried walls and an old levee system, possibly the first documented geophysical survey of this type of levee system..

Principal Investigator

Professor Lee Liberty - Boise State University  

Project Partners

Chiang Mai University
Thailand Department of Mineral Resources
Colorado School of Mines
Geonics Limited
University of Western Australia
Royal Irrigation Department
Siam Tone Company Ltd
Mahidol University
Qatar Petroleum


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