Geophysicist

Mining is a key contributor to the national economy with 53 different minerals mined in the South African landscape. The nature of mining activities poses significant risk to the natural environment as well as the mining workforce and surrounding communities. Geophysics explores mineral deposits and related physical processes and properties in the landscape to reduce geological uncertainty and minimise safety, health and environmental risks.

Geophysicists study the composition, structure and other physical attributes of the earth. They locate mineral deposits and detect, monitor and forecast seismic, magnetic, electrical, thermal and oceanographic activity identifying potential environmental hazards. They also evaluate sites to determine if proposed projects are suitable and safe for mining, construction and related activities.

Geophysicists work independently or as part of a geoscience team, engaging with varied professionals. They can work in a variety of environments including the field doing earth studies, laboratories and an office environment for report writing.

Skills

Geophysicists need an excellent understanding of physical science in relation to earth systems and processes, coupled with:

  • A sound knowledge of the laws and regulations for mineral exploration
  • Ability to model various scenarios and test hypotheses
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving ability
  • Project management competence 

Tasks

Estimate weight, size and mass of the earth and the composition and structure of its interior

Study and measure physical properties and their interrelationships 

Locate and determine the nature and extent of earth resources

Conduct research and improve or develop concepts, theories and operational methods

Studies

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Geology specialising in Geophysics at Wits

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Physics at all universities

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Geology at NMU, NWU, RU, SU, UCT, UFH, UFS, UJ, UKZN, UL, UP, UWC and Wits

Employers

National, provincial and local government.

Research institutions.

Construction and mining companies. 

Private consultancies.

Related career paths