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GEO8025 : Environmental Geophysics

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Christine Batchelor
  • Lecturer: Dr Louise Callard
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 20 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


Rationale: Environmental geophysics describes non-invasive techniques used to determine the physical properties of the shallow sub-surface of the Earth. Environmental near-surface geophysics is widely used in both academic research (e.g. Quaternary science) and within industry (e.g. environmental consultancy) and have a wide application across a range of disciplines (e.g., geography, earth and marine sciences, archeology, engineering).

Aim: This module will provide an overview of environmental geophysics with an emphasis on the principles of surface and shallow sub-surface geophysical data acquisition and interpretation. This will be done by a combination of lectures, computer practicals and a one-day fieldtrip for students to gain first-hand experience. The module aims to:

•       Introduce students to key environmental geophysical techniques and methods.

•       Convey important underlying theory and knowledge relating to these techniques.

•       Provide examples of how they can be applied to address different environmental problems.

•       Provide training and experience of geophysical survey design, geophysical equipment, field methodology and data visualization and interpretation.

Through this module, students will gain relevant techniques to perform independent research, and the knowledge and skills gained will have wider application within industry.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus is strongly focused on teaching practical skills used within environmental geophysics. An emphasis is placed on near-surface geophysical techniques.

The module is split into four parts.

1) Introduction to environmental geophysics, including:

•       Principles of environmental geophysics

•       Different applications and methods (e.g. seismic reflection and refraction, electrical resistivity, ground penetrating radar).

•       Limitations and advantages of different methods

•       Data types and open-source material

This will be taught via a 1 x 2-hour lecture and 1 x 2 hour workshop discussing different methods in environmental geophysics (4 hr contact).

2) Geophysical survey design.

•       Principles of survey design

•       Limitations and advantages

•       Planning a survey using secondary data and GIS

•       Pitching a survey design

This will be taught via 1 x1-hour lecture, 1 x 2-hour computer based practical and a 1x 1-hour design workshop (4 hr contact)

3) Data acquisition in the field.

•       Introduction to using geophysical equipment in the field

•       Data acquisition

•       Reflective exercise on data collection

This is taught through a 1 x 8 hour fieldtrip (8 hours contact) where possible, but a virtual alternative will be provided if required.

4) Post-survey analysis.

•       Data processing

•       Data analysis and interpretation

•       Report

This will be taught via a 1 x 3-hour computer based practical with a 1 x1-hour drop-in session (4 hour contact)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00Planned for PiP, but can be delivered online if required
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:00Planned for PiP, but can be delivered online if required
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00Planned for PiP, but can be delivered online if required
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical13:003:00Planned for PiP, but can be delivered online if required
Guided Independent StudyProject work180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00Planned for PiP, but can be delivered online if required
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Planned for PiP, but can be delivered online if required
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00Planned for PiP, but can be delivered online if required
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Planned for PiP, but can be delivered online if required
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module will be semi-block taught over 5 weeks and will encompass a range of teaching methods. Lectures will be used to introduce subject matter and background on the theory, method and application of environmental geophysics. Computer practicals will provide the students with skills for pre-survey planning and post-survey data visualisation, processing and interpretation. Workshop 1 will allow students to reflect on the different methods and applications in environmental geophysics. Workshop 2 is used for the students to pitch their survey plan and then reflect and adapt this plan to be implemented in the field. The fieldtrip gives the student first-hand experience of data acquisition, which is essential for critical evaluation of their survey design. The final practical teaches the students how to process the data, which is best taught via the students using the software. As a whole, the module takes the students from principles, through data collection and survey planning, to data processing, and thus teaches them the full geophysical data collection process. This can then be applied to other scenarios, including dissertations and industry problems. A drop-in session will be available after the final practical for students to discuss any queries relating to the data processing and/or the report. The remainder of the module is dedicated to independent learning and time for writing a report. This report will including a write up of the survey design as well as the results, interpretation and conclusions of the data collected in the field.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination2M20Survey plan pitch (Length: ten minutes followed by two to five minutes of questions)
Report2M802000 word equivalent report
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The oral presentation will develop oral and visual presentation skills and show understanding of the taught material. It will demonstrate that students have ability to plan a geophysical survey with use of computer applications and will assess the students’ problem solving and decision-making skills. The presentation and subsequent discussion will improve students’ ability to critically evaluate research design and to justify their method.

The report assesses the ability of students to process, analyse and present a range of primary and secondary field data. The report assesses their ability to relate field results to literature and their development of critical argument. Overall, the field report assesses written communication skills and report writing style.

Reading Lists