They make a difference and help save lives. A geophysicist is a scientist who studies the Earth’s natural processes and how they interact with humans using gravity, magnetic, electrical, and seismic methods.

Geophysicists combine the sciences of geology and physics to locate resources such as oil and gas, mineral deposits, water, and energy resources. They also study the internal structure and evolution of the earth, the ocean, and other physical features to predict earthquakes, erosion, volcanoes, and more. They employ the principles and techniques of geology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, and other scientific disciplines to perform tests and determine the structure and composition of the Earth and other planets.

Exploration geophysics is the applied branch of geophysics that uses surface methods to measure the physical properties of the subsurface earth, along with the anomalies in these properties, in order to detect or infer the presence and position of ore minerals, hydrocarbons, geothermal reservoirs, groundwater reservoirs, and other geological structures.

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 the global population. 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.


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. Applied geophysics should play a major role in the 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 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.