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Exploration Geophysics

Geophysics is the science of studying the Earth using the laws of physics.  One branch of geophysics known as exploration geophysics is used on a regional scale for discovery of the Earth's economic resources, such as mineral deposits and hydrocarbon reservoirs. The geophysics research at the Harquail School of Earth Sciences (HES) at Laurentian University is mainly focused on exploration geophysics for mineral prospecting.

Geophysics is the science of studying the Earth using the laws of physics. On a global scale, geophysicists study the phenomena such as earthquakes, magnetosphere, earth magnetic and gravity fields, planets, and etc. However, another branch of geophysics commonly known as exploration geophysics is used in regional scales for discovery and exploitation of the earth economical resources such as mineral deposits and hydrocarbon reservoirs. The common geophysical prospecting methods include the potential field (gravity and magnetic), electromagnetic (EM), geo-electric, induced polarization (IP), and seismic methods.

The potential field surveys capture the variations in the earth’s magnetic and gravity fields in order to identify the magnetic susceptibility and density anomalies beneath the surface, respectively. The EM and geo-electric methods map the electrical resistivity of the subsurface. In an IP survey, besides the resistivity measurement, electrical chargeability of the subsurface materials are determined as well. The goal of the seismic method is to gather, process and invert seismic wave fields to obtain an interpretable image of the subsurface. In the seismic method, a controlled pulse of energy provokes a disturbance in the surface of the earth that propagates into the subsurface and reflections on geological boundaries propagate back to the surface of the earth. This information is recorded by an array of receivers, saved, processed for SNR enhancement, and finally, used to produce an image of the subsurface. 

The geophysics research at the Harquail School of Earth Sciences (HES) at Laurentian University is mainly focused on exploration geophysics for mineral prospecting. It spans all aspects of the mentioned geophysical prospecting methods including data acquisition, processing, and interpretation. As part of Metal Earth project, a total of 1000 km long 2D seismic lines are gathered across the Canadian Shield in Quebec and Ontario Provinces in Fall 2017. The seismic data were collected with long offsets and various spatial sampling scenarios. This unique seismic dataset, combined with EM, potential field, and geoscience data collected along the same profiles, will be used to image shallow and deep structures of Canadian Shield for mineral exploration purposes.



  • Mostafa Naghizadeh
    Mostafa Naghizadeh
    Assistant Professor, Seismic Geophysics

    Mostafa Naghizadeh joined us in September 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Geophysics with specialization in Exploration Seismology after five years of industry experience in seismic data processing. His research focuses on seismic data processing method, inversion problems, computational geophysics, and seismic applications for mineral exploration.

  • Richard S. Smith
    Richard Smith
    Professor, Industrial Research Chair Geophysics

    Richard Smith is a Professor at Laurentian University, teaching and conducting research in Geophysics. His specialty is electromagnetic methods and magnetic methods.



Post Doctoral Fellows



PhD Candidates

  • Francisca Maepa
    Francisca Maepa
    PhD candidate in Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology

    The purpose of my project is to find regions that are favorable for mineral deposits by employing data integration, machine learning techniques and, geo-statistics. This project will test these methods initially on the Swayze Greenstone Belt (SGB) and then attempt to apply the methods more generally to the Abitibi subprovince. The SGB is an extension of the mineral prolific Abitibi Greenstone Belt (AGB), and although there is known gold mineralization in the Swayze, it is not as mineral endowed as other parts of the AGB. The project also seeks to understand the effect of incorporating high-resolution geophysical datasets, and how geophysics affects predictive mineral mapping results. The study will help to determine the optimum data to use in both greenfield and brownfield exploration, as understanding which datasets to collect at the early stages of exploration is essential.

  • Tomas Naprstek
    PhD candidate Geophysics

    Developing improved algorithms for geophysical gridding and aeromagnetic anomaly depth estimation.

  • Eric Roots
    Eric Roots
    PhD. Candidate

    I am studying magnetotelluric (MT) data and inversion with Dr. Richard Smith. I am interested in developing new methodologies which allow MT data to be inverted and interpreted alongside with co-located geological and geophysical data.



MSc Students

  • Amir Maleki
    Amir Maleki
    MSc candidate Geology

    I am part of the Metal Earth project, and I have focused on applications of geophysical potential field data (i.e. gravity and magnetic) to distinguish the difference between endowed and less endowed regions, which will identify areas for future mineral exploration. My supervisor is Dr. Richard Smith, and my thesis entails both field work (acquiring gravity and petrophysical databases across many transect, with more than a few hundred km of data collection in Quebec and Ontario provinces) and office work to process and model the acquired data in a manner consistent with seismic and magnteotelluric data.

  • William McNeice
    William McNeice
    MSc candidate Geology

    Will Joined the Metal Earth team in 2017 as a Masters student. While his main focus is on physical rock properties, he often tries to be involved in as many components of the geophysical aspects of Metal Earth. Collaboration is his bread and butter when it comes to learning new things.

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