GEOS2311 – Geophysical Methods for Earth and Environmental Sciences

2021 – Session 1, Fully online/virtual


As part of Phase 3 of our return to campus plan, most units will now run tutorials, seminars and other small group activities on campus, and most will keep an online version available to those students unable to return or those who choose to continue their studies online.

To check the availability of face-to-face and online activities for your unit, please go to timetable viewer. To check detailed information on unit assessments visit your unit's iLearn space or consult your unit convenor.

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Lecturer - Convenor
Juan Carlos Afonso
Craig O'Neill
Steven Hansen
Yingjie Yang
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
10cp from GEOS units at 1000 level
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

Geophysical methods are the most cost-effective, environmentally safe and widely used approaches to characterise the sub-surface conditions for environmental, geotechnical, hydrogeology, engineering, archaeology and geology studies, to name a few. This unit introduces the most important geophysical methods currently used by engineers, earth and environmental scientists to understand and provide solutions to a large number of scientific and society-relevant problems (infrastructure development, groundwater contamination, geohazards, urban development, resource exploration, monitoring of pollution plumes, etc). Included are the methods of collecting and interpreting gravity, magnetic, seismic and electrical data and their use in mapping and charactering subsurface conditions. Practical classes involve reducing and interpreting geophysical data from earth and environmental problems. Data from a field survey is used to interpret the geological structure and environmental aspects of the dataset.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: demonstrate a sound understanding of the basic concepts of geophysics
  • ULO2: operate geophysical equipment
  • ULO3: demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals in modelling and interpreting geophysical data
  • ULO4: apply knowledge to solving geophysical problems and evaluating ideas and information
  • ULO5: effectively present ideas with supporting evidence

General Assessment Information

If you require special consideration for the final exam, I urge you to communicate this to the convenor as soon as possible. A supplementary exam will be scheduled in the interval between the regular exam period and the start of the next session. By making a special consideration application for the final exam you are declaring yourself available for a resit during the supplementary examination period and will not be eligible for a second special consideration approval based on pre-existing commitments.  Please ensure you are familiar with the policy prior to submitting an application. You can check the supplementary exam information page on FSE101 in iLearn ( for dates, and approved applicants will receive an individual notification one week prior to the exam with the exact date and time of their supplementary examination.

Assessment Tasks

Name Weighting Hurdle Due
Field Data Report 26% No Week 13
Final Examination 50% No TBA
Quizzes 24% No week 4, 7, 10 and 13

Field Data Report

Assessment Type 1: Report
Indicative Time on Task 2: 30 hours
Due: Week 13
Weighting: 26%


Report on analysis of existing data from a field area.


On successful completion you will be able to:
  • demonstrate a sound understanding of the basic concepts of geophysics
  • operate geophysical equipment
  • demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals in modelling and interpreting geophysical data
  • apply knowledge to solving geophysical problems and evaluating ideas and information
  • effectively present ideas with supporting evidence

Final Examination

Assessment Type 1: Examination
Indicative Time on Task 2: 35 hours
Due: TBA
Weighting: 50%


The examination will consist of a number of short answer questions on definitions and concepts, followed by an essay section requiring further description of concepts and theory.


On successful completion you will be able to:
  • demonstrate a sound understanding of the basic concepts of geophysics
  • effectively present ideas with supporting evidence


Assessment Type 1: Quiz/Test
Indicative Time on Task 2: 12 hours
Due: week 4, 7, 10 and 13
Weighting: 24%


The quizzes will consist of short answer or multiple choice questions relating to the practical work and lecture material from the period preceding the quiz.


On successful completion you will be able to:
  • demonstrate a sound understanding of the basic concepts of geophysics
  • apply knowledge to solving geophysical problems and evaluating ideas and information

1 If you need help with your assignment, please contact:

  • the academic teaching staff in your unit for guidance in understanding or completing this type of assessment
  • the Learning Skills Unit for academic skills support.

2 Indicative time-on-task is an estimate of the time required for completion of the assessment task and is subject to individual variation

Delivery and Resources

Recommended Texts and/or Materials

The recommended textbook for the unit is MUSSETT and KHAN (Looking into the Earth, 2000). The book is available from the library as hard copies and digital access. Copies of the PowerPoint’s shown in the lectures will be available on the unit’s WEB page. The recommended textbook is an excellent text for second year, but you can also consider some of the third year textbooks as well.

The texts you should first consider are SHARMA (Environmental and Engineering Geophysics, 1997) and REYNOLDS (An Introduction to Applied and Environmental Geophysics, 1997), because they cover all the major geophysical topics. They have the further advantage of consistently using the SI system of units.

In the past we used a text by SHARMA (Geophysical Methods in Geology, 2nd Ed, 1986), but this is now out of print. SHARMA covers the global aspect of geophysics in more detail and is a useful reference to have if you can find a 2nd hand copy. In 1998, we used PARASNIS (Principles of Applied Geophysics, 5th Ed) but a change in publisher meant a massive increase in its cost. However, it is a useful text to refer to if you can find a 2nd hand copy. Other useful textbooks can be found in the unit outline in the iLearn page. 

Technology Used and Required

The unit also has a WEB site which can be found through the iLearn WEBSITE at .  This site contains information such as copies of colour images, copies of PowerPoint’s shown in class, and copies of the practicals that we do in class. The WEB site will also allow access to the digital version of the lectures recorded through the iLecture system. As well, this site will access the on-line quizzes that will need to be completed during the Session.  At the start of the year you should be issued with a username and password (Macquarie oneID) to access all the WEB sites available for the units you have taken. This will get you into the front page of the GEOS2311 WEB site.


Information for students about access to online units is available at

I recommend that you use Mozilla Firefox as your browser, as it seems to have far less problems than Internet Explorer with iLearn

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