A geophysicist/field seismologist studies physical aspects of the earth and uses complex equipment to collect data on earthquakes and seismic waves, which move through and around the earth. Their main responsibilities are controlling the quality of the seismic data collected and interpreting it in order to create maps of the build up of hydrocarbons. They also examine the physical properties of rocks, as well as gathering and evaluating well data in order to build reservoir models.
Job descriptions and job titles vary according to the area of employment. The role generally involves undertaking seismic exploration and producing controlled source seismic data for an oil company or consultancy. However, geophysicists/field seismologists may also be involved in providing environmental consultancy, e.g. investigation of landfill sites, using geophysical techniques, or working within a research institute to investigate seismological structures and provide seismological information to the public and government.
Typical work activities
Geophysicists working in the field, which may be onshore or offshore, are typically involved in:
pre-planning projects before going on site;
designing data acquisition plans;
deciding on suitable seismic measurement and data-processing techniques;
taking equipment out to various locations around the world and deploying seismometers;
observing the reaction of recording equipment to detect irregularities;
using computers for data management, quality control and communication between the office and field locations;
interpreting and mapping of 2D and 3D seismic data;
reporting on collected seismic data to the team, clients, senior managers or partners at meetings and presentations;
measuring reservoir volumes;
assessing potential oil and gas yield;
thinking quickly and independently to solve problems, often with limited resources in remote locations;
designing, testing, modifying and repairing seismic equipment;
adapting data collection procedures;
working closely with a small team of scientists and other staff who may be away in the field or offshore for several weeks at a time;
compiling charts and reports;
writing documentation and work logs;
providing a wide range of geophysical support and technical advice/guidance;
keeping abreast of new and emerging technologies;
improving existing techniques in data acquisition and mathematical processing, as well as seeking to develop new techniques and methods;
working within budget, resource and time constraints.
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