Near Surface Geophysics at SEG

About the Near Surface Section


Near Surface
Student conducting a VLF EM survey with an ABEM WADI mapping fractured aquifer.

SEG is recognized as the leading global society for applied near-surface geophysics. Near-surface applications are increasing in number and societal value. Sharing and communication of theoretical advances, technology developments and best practices are essential for the advancement and effective application of geophysics.

SEG seeks to advance and promote the rigorous science, technology, and professional practice of applied near-surface geophysics. Every year, the Near-Surface Technical Section holds multiple business and technical meetings, as well as hosts several NSG oral and poster sessions at the SEG Annual Meeting. In addition, many Near-Surface Technical Section members take the lead in organizing special sessions at the SEG Annual Meeting, and special articles and issues for The Leading Edge (TLE) and Geophysics. The Near-Surface Section newsletter, Near-Surface Views, is also published quarterly to keep members informed of Near-Surface developments. In addition, SEG dedicates time and resources to Near-Surface through ongoing programs, such as Geoscientists Without Borders (GWB) where most projects involve near-surface technology. Currently, there are 23 GWB projects with teams hard at work in the field, not only making an impact in those countries where the projects unfold, but also enhancing the reputation of geophysics around the world.

While near-surface geophysics shares many of the technical and cultural attributes of oil and gas exploration, the majority of near-surface geophysicists practice under very different economic drivers and conditions. Further, the culture of near-surface geophysics maintains many unique characteristics not shared by the petroleum industry. The near-surface geophysics community includes scientists and professionals from academia, industry, and government. Areas of near-surface geophysics investigation include engineering, environmental, groundwater, mining, geohazards, infrastructure, geothermal, archeological, and agricultural applications.

Near-surface geophysics is generally defined as the use of geophysical methods to investigate the upper few meters to hundreds of meters of the Earth's crust. Although the same physical principles are relevant for any target depth, the high degree of near-surface heterogeneity and proximity to the free surface often dictates that dominant processes differ between the near surface and deeper investigations. Rick Miller, in The Leading Edge "Introduction to this special section: Near-Surface Geophysics" (Vol. 30 No. 2), states "One thing is certain: The need to better characterize the upper 100 m of the Earth's surface is going to escalate to the point at which geophysical efforts (monetary and manpower) in the near surface will surpass those exerted in pursuit of petroleum."