Modern civilization is heavily dependent on natural resources located in the upper few kilometres of the Earth. It is in this outer region of our planet where we find our principal sources of energy and the vast majority of raw materials required for the construction, manufacturing and chemical industries. In many areas, vital water supplies are stored in the shallow underground and it is in the upper few tens of metres where household and industrial wastes are commonly buried. Knowledge of the shallow underground is important for the planning of major buildings and civil engineering projects and for predicting the consequences of natural catastrophes.
Most easily accessible natural resources were discovered and extracted during the 19th and 20th centuries. To meet the growing demands of the world's expanding population for natural resources, to resolve problems created by our misuse of the land, to provide critical data to architects and civil engineers and to forecast the effects of natural disasters, it is necessary for us acquire detailed information on the structure, composition and condition of the outer skin of the Earth. Applied geophysicists provide this essential information in a non-destructive manner. Fortunately, similar suites of geophysical tools can be used for the exploration and exploitation of deeply buried natural resources and for tracing shallow contaminant plumes escaping from poorly conceived landfills.
To help satisfy society's rising need for highly qualified applied earth scientists, the partner universities together offer the joint Masters in Aplied Geophysics. Students receive training at all three universities to take advantage of the complementary expertise available in the respective earth science departments. Those who successfully complete the programme of study and research are well qualified in applied geophysics related to either hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation or environmental and engineering investigations (including geothermal energy exploration and exploitation), with a solid background in the other speciality.