Discovering the Earth

Exploring a Dynamic Planet

Earth is a dynamic planet evolving over geologic and human time scales giving rise to tectonic processes such as earthquakes and volcanoes, and the formation of mineral resources. Using geophysical data and methods we explore Earth’s interior at all spatial and temporal scales from shallow subsurface to its core.

We research a wide range of topics including;

  • Imaging of Earth’s interior at all scales
  • Natural hazards
  • Mineral exploration
  • Planetary geophysics

Seismic waves generated by earthquakes are one of our primary tools to probe the Earth’s interior from the crust all the way down to its center. We analyze seismic wiggles and construct high-resolution CAT scan images of Earth’s interior to interpret Earth’s composition and inner dynamics. Then we relate these images to surface processes to understand the origin of, and the driving forces behind, tectonic activities. Similar techniques are also frequently used in exploration seismology. These studies have a strong societal impact including in the assessment and mitigation of natural hazards related to seismic activity and tsunamis in earthquake-prone regions. Advances in space missions create venues for geophysicists to use their expertise to inspect the composition and dynamics of other planets and asteroids.

Geophysics plays a key role in the exploration for mineral resources, ranging from precious and base metals to coal, uranium and rare-earth elements. In the greenfields setting, economic geologists often define and prioritize early-stage exploration drill targets based on results from geophysical imaging. Additional resources and reserves can be added to an existing mining operation through the use of brownfields and in-mine geophysics. Furthermore, geophysical methods are commonly used to support geotechnical studies during mine planning and development, helping mining engineers characterize structural stability in open pits or underground.

Please visit the websites of our faculty to get further information on how we explore Earth and other planets. There are many job opportunities to conduct research in academia at universities, governmental organizations and research laboratories in the private sector.