Geophysicist Kaimātai Pūtaiao Whenua

Geophysicists use data-collecting technology to study natural processes of the Earth such as earthquake and volcanic activity, and to locate minerals, oil and gas, or ground water.

Geophysicists may do some or all of the following:

  • study the physical properties of the Earth, including geological layers, oceans and atmosphere
  • study the properties of rocks and other planets
  • look for and study oil, gas, groundwater and mineral deposits
  • study the patterns of eruption of active and dormant volcanoes
  • study risks to coastlines from storms and tsunamis
  • measure gravity, earthquakes, electrical fields and magnetic fields
  • process data and measurements taken from global positioning system (GPS) equipment
  • provide information for search and rescue missions
  • advise central and local government, civil defence and other organisations about risks from volcanoes, for example
  • carry out research and experiments, and develop numerical models to support their hypotheses
  • write research papers and reports based on the results of their studies
  • teach at universities and supervise students' research projects.

 

Physical Requirements

Geophysicists need to be reasonably fit and healthy to do fieldwork, which is normally a small part of their role. Fieldwork can involve conducting experiments in extreme environments, walking in remote locations, carrying heavy equipment or working in rough seas. 

Useful Experience

Useful experience for geophysicists includes:

  • work as a computer programmer
  • work in electronics
  • work as a geological field assistant or science technician
  • any practical marine work such as scuba diving.

Personal Qualities

Geophysicists need to be:

  • comfortable working outdoors
  • accurate and observant
  • enquiring
  • patient
  • good at planning and problem solving
  • good at communicating
  • able to write reports
  • good at maths.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for geophysicists includes:

  • work as a computer programmer
  • work in electronics
  • work as a geological field assistant or science technician
  • any practical marine work such as scuba diving.

Subject Recommendations

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include physics, chemistry, maths, geography and English.

Geophysicists can earn around $65K-$110K per year per year.

Geophysicists may specialise in roles such as:

Oceanographer
Oceanographers study the oceans and the marine environment.
Seismologist
Seismologists study earthquakes and artificially produced vibrations of the Earth. 
Volcanologist
Volcanologists study volcanoes and monitor volcanic activity.
Geophysicist