The University of Southampton

SOES6004 Applied and Marine Geophysics

Module Overview

The module covers, at advanced level, three topics that are central to applied geophysics in the marine environment.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To develop the principles of geophysical exploration from a basic level to that of current practice in exploration industry and research applications.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the main techniques used in multi-channel seismic reflection data processing;
  • Use of ProMAX software for processing and analysis of seismic reflection data.
  • Interpret and report on seismic reflection profiles;
  • Describe limits on the resolution of seismic and potential field data and design a data acquisition and processing strategy for a given target;
  • Explain aspects of how seismic reflection methods and electromagnetic methods are used to identify and optimise hydrocarbon plays;
  • Understand the core theory and practice underlying electromagnetic exploration methods;
  • Process, analyze and interpret potential field and electromagnetic data to infer subsurface structure
  • Use of computer programs to model gravity, magnetic and electromagnetic data;
  • Report writing to summarise scientific findings;
  • Interpretation of seismic reflection profiles;


The module covers, at advanced level, three topics that are central to applied geophysics in the marine environment. The first is reflection seismology; the second is potential field methods; and the third is marine electromagnetic surveying. . The study of reflection seismology accounts for just less than half of the course. Basic seismic processing operations are introduced, including correlation, convolution, deconvolution, frequency filtering and migration. Strong emphasis is placed on the applications of spectral analysis using Fourier based methods. The module uses examples from hydrocarbon exploration and continental margin studies, including seismic stratigraphy, methods of reservoir identification and 3D surveying. Practical exercises include both seismic processing and interpretation. In the second part of the module the application of potential field theory to geophysical exploration is discussed, with a particular emphasis on gravity and magnetic surveying. Advanced methods for anomaly separation and filtering, based on spectral analysis and spatial derivatives, are introduced. Different approaches are reviewed and practical experience is gained through computer modelling and analysis exercises. The particular problems of marine and airborne surveying and data processing are addressed. The third component provides an overview of controlled source electromagnetic methods, as applied in marine survey operations. Both the underlying theory and the fundamentals of data acquisition and processing are addressed. Computer-based practical exercises provide experience in modelling marine controlled source electromagnetic datasets, and examining the sensitivity of this type of data to resistivity anomalies in the sub-surface.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal Lectures: will deal with geophysical exploration with particular emphasis on gravity and magnetic surveying, controlled source electromagnetics and advanced reflection seismology. An outline of each lecture will be provided. Each lecture systematically covers the main concepts and topics by the use of PowerPoint presentations. Most lectures will be complemented by illustrated handout materials. Where relevant, lecturers' own research experience in the appropriate fields is brought into the lecturing sessions. References to relevant textbooks and journal articles are provided as essential reading for each lecture. Laboratory Classes: will further develop your processing, modelling and data interpretation skills. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study97
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

E. J. W. Jones (1999). Marine Geophysics. 

P. Kearey, M. Brooks & I. Hill (2002). An Introduction to Geophysical Exploration. 

W. M. Telford, L. P. Geldart & R. E. Sheriff (1990). Applied Geophysics. 


Assessment Strategy

Theory examination (60%): A two-hour written examination. You will need to answer three extended questions that cover seismic, potential field and electromagnetic aspects of the course. You will need to illustrate your answers with clearly annotated and labelled diagrams. The questions normally will require the integration of information from more than one part of the course. Tests Learning Outcomes 1,3,4,5 Practical (20%): Seismic processing and interpretation exercises. Tests Learning Outcomes 1 and 2 Practical (20%): Potential field or EM data exercises. Tests Learning Outcomes 5 and 6.


MethodPercentage contribution
Practical assessment 20%
Practical assessment 20%
Theory examination  (2 hours) 60%
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