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Exploration geophysics

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Exploration geophysics is an applied branch of geophysics, which uses physical methods, such as seismic, gravitational, magnetic, electrical and electromagnetic at the surface of the Earth to measure the physical properties of the subsurface, along with the anomalies in those properties. It is most often used to detect or infer the presence and position of economically useful geological deposits, such as ore minerals; fossil fuels and other hydrocarbonsgeothermal reservoirs; and groundwater reservoirs.


Exploration geophysics can be used to directly detect the target style of mineralization, via measuring its physical properties directly. For example, one may measure the density contrasts between the dense iron ore and the lighter silicate host rock, or one may measure the electrical conductivity contrast between conductive sulfide minerals and the resistive silicate host rock


The main techniques used are:

  1. Seismic tomography to locate earthquakes and assist in Seismology

  2. Reflection seismology and seismic refraction to map the surface structure of a region.

  3. Geodesy and gravity techniques, including gravity gradiometry.

  4. Magnetic techniques, including aeromagnetic surveys to map magnetic anomalies.

  5. Electrical techniques, including electrical resistivity tomography and induced polarization.

  6. Electromagnetic methods, such as magnetotelluricsground penetrating radartransient/time-domain electromagnetics and SNMR.

  7. Borehole geophysics, also called well logging.

  8. Remote sensing techniques, including hyperspectral imaging.

Many other techniques, or methods of integration of the above techniques, have been developed and are currently used. However these are not as common due to cost-effectiveness, wide applicability and/or uncertainty in the results produced.


 

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