Sustaining the Environment

Environmental Geophysics

The world of environmental geophysics is among the most varied of the applied sciences. Generally, the term describes the application of geophysics to the study of the uppermost part of the Earth’s crust, which is the part of the Earth that humans interact with directly.

Environmental geophysics includes the study of

  • groundwater and groundwater contamination
  • the impact of climate change on glaciers, permafrost, and water distribution
  • the interaction between surface water and groundwater or between the atmosphere and the subsurface
  • moisture distribution for food production

Environmental geophysicists use many of the same tools and techniques used to explore for energy resources or to study Earth’s deep interior.  Although the physics of the shallow Earth are the same as the deep Earth, certain mechanisms are more dominant in the near surface environment which add complexity and often make shallow investigations more challenging.

Environmental geophysics provides great potential for significant impact on society because it is necessarily concerned with human/Earth interactions.  The discipline requires strong technical skills, and it is important to understand policy, community risk tolerance and assessment, and to be keenly aware of ethical considerations when conducting projects. Environmental geophysics practices are often used to support humanitarian efforts.

The Geophysics Department at Mines includes faculty and students actively studying and conducting research in environmental geophysics.  This field of study provides many potential career paths.  We encourage you to explore our web pages or to contact the Department to learn more.