Environmental geophysics, like mining geophysics, is thought of, by some myopic Calgarians, as a poor relation of petroleum geophysics. However, much interesting and highly relevant work is being done in this field. Important issues such as the detection of contaminated sites for remedial clean-up of hazardous waste materials, determination of water flow patterns and the detection of underground mine workings, tunnels and cavities can all be addressed with modern environmental geophysics techniques. Such techniques are also used to investigate archaeological sites and help the police locate disturbed ground for forensic applications. Remote sensing methods for environmental geophysics investigations include ground-penetrating radar, electromagnetic, magnetic and electrical surveying methods and often more than one method is used at a survey site.
Environmental issues are becoming more important as we realize that the planet’s resources must be used in less wasteful ways and we seek to improve the quality of life for all humans. Thus, geophysical techniques applied to environmental and humanitarian problems should be expected to play an increasingly important role.
In this issue of the Recorder, we have three papers demonstrating contrasting applications of environmental geophysics. Maillol describes an archaeological geophysics survey over an important Early Neolithic site in Romania, where magnetometry and electrical resistivity imaging were conducted. Kellett and Bauman explain how the integration of borehole geophysics, electromagnetics, electrical resistivity imaging, hydrogeological data, geological maps and satellite and air photo interpretations increases greatly the success rate of water wells drilled in southern Africa. Isaac and MacCulloch show results from trial GPR surveys over frozen lakes, which were conducted to investigate the applicability of this method for monitoring lake depths and sedimentation rates in Alberta.