Geophysicists make a difference.

The world needs more geophysicists.
Are you ready to help save the world?

The important work that geophysicists do is having a tremendous impact on some of the most significant problems facing humanity. Here are just a few examples of how applied geophysics is changing lives on Planet Earth.

“A Massive Freshwater Sea is Buried Beneath the Atlantic Ocean”

LiveScience, 6/24/19

A gigantic freshwater aquifer is hiding under the salty Atlantic Ocean, just off the northeastern coast of the United States, a new study finds.

While the aquifer's exact size is still a mystery, it may be the largest of its kind, taking up a region stretching from at least Massachusetts to southern New Jersey, or nearly 220 miles (350 kilometers). The area includes the coastlines of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. This aquifer may contain about 670 cubic miles (2,800 cubic kilometers) of slightly salty water (we'll explain its slight saltiness later).

This water isn't young, either. The researchers said they suspect that much of it is from the last ice age. READ MORE

“UVU, BYU researchers improve tsunami safety in Indonesia”

Provo Daily Herald, 8/31/16

Ron Harris thought that when he published academic papers forecasting the next natural disasters in Indonesia, the information needed to keep people safe would trickle down to the them.

But it didn’t. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami hit, killing about 230,000 people in 14 countries.

“It was just a shock,” said Harris, a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at Brigham Young University. “I personally felt like I had blood on my hands. I knew what was going to happen.”

He realized only a few people would read his academic papers, which were in English and written in technical language. Even information in newspapers wouldn't make it out of the big cities, and reports to the government never seemed to make it to the people. READ MORE

“Global Energy Demand Can Only Increase”

Forbes, 7/5/19

There’s an unimaginable urbanization boom occurring around the world that means more energy use.

We, of course, don’t see much of it here in the West, but global cities swell in population by some 80 million people every year: e.g., the rise of the “megacity” with 10 million residents.

Basically all population growth in the decades ahead will take place in urban areas, all of which will be in the still developing nations (non-OECD), where poverty and insufficient access to energy is far more rampant than our worst nightmares could ever imagine. READ MORE

“Escape Tunnel, Dug by Hand, Is Found at Holocaust Massacre Site”

New York Times, 6/29/16

A team of archaeologists and mapmakers say they have uncovered a forgotten tunnel that 80 Jews dug largely by hand as they tried to escape from a Nazi extermination site in Lithuania about 70 years ago.

The Lithuanian site, Ponar, holds mass burial pits and graves where up to 100,000 people were killed and their bodies dumped or burned during the Holocaust.

Using radar and radio waves to scan beneath the ground, the researchers found the tunnel, a 100-foot passageway between five and nine feet below the surface, the team announced on Wednesday. READ MORE

Social Contribution of Geophysics
Social Contribution of Geophysics

The profession of applied geophysics has a history of innovation that includes driving major developments of the past century in computation, data management, processing of digital signals and images, visualization and more.

The spirit of innovation remains strong in the geophysics community. Our profession is positioned to make major contributions to solving the challenges facing society.

Perhaps the greatest of the “grand challenges” facing mankind is the continuing increase in global population, which as of 2011 exceeded 7 billion people, and by most estimates is on course to reach more than 9 billion by 2050. This puts an enormous strain on the earth’s resources. Geophysics has a major role to play in addressing three of the most important challenges - energy, water, and climate. SEG is positioned to be the nexus for a global community of geophysicists working together to solve these problems


The energy demand of 9 billion people is enormous. Although alternative and renewable energy sources are growing in importance, hydrocarbons are needed to meet the majority of the energy demand and are expected to be required for decades to come. The majority of population growth is anticipated to be in developing nations. Assuming that everyone has the right to expect a good quality of life, we must strive to ensure that there is sufficient energy available to make this possible. Applied geophysics helps provide energy and can improve the efficiency and safety of oil and gas operations, while reducing the environmental impact.


Although water is essential for life, more than 10% of the world’s population lacks access to clean water. Without a change in water management practices, more than half of the world’s population will live in areas with severely stressed water systems by 2050. Applied geophysics should play a major role in improved management of groundwater systems. SEG programs, such as Geoscientists Without Borders®, are making important contributions to this vital area of societal need.


The earth is continuously undergoing climate change, but the current rate of change is expected to have an increasing impact on humanity. Human produced CO2 emissions are a significant factor. Many SEG members play a role in both understanding climate change and in managing CO2 emissions, including observing glacier and ice sheet volume, studying glacier hydrology, evaluating permafrost degradation, and evaluating and monitoring reservoirs for CO2 sequestration.

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