Geophysicists study the earth's physical features, including its atmosphere and hydrosphere. They examine and measure seismic, gravitational, electrical, thermal and magnetic forces, using the principles of physics, mathematics and chemistry.
They analyse data to compute the earth’s shape, estimate composition and structure of the earth’s interior, determine flow patterns of ocean tides and currents and help locate petroleum and mineral deposits. They investigate the origin and activity of volcanoes, glaciers and earthquakes.
They compile data to prepare navigational charts and maps, predict atmospheric conditions, prepare environmental reports and establish water supply and flood control programmes. Some may also study other planets. Solid earth, fluid earth and upper atmosphere, are three general fields of geophysicists.
Geophysics involves the use of a number of techniques used to solve specific problems. The most important of these are: the gravity technique, the magnetic method, seismic techniques, electric and electromagnetic methods and radiomagnetic methods.
Geophysicists generally spend a certain percentage of their time in the field carrying out geographical measurements, while the rest of the time is spent in the laboratory or office, processing, interpreting, modelling, evaluating and reporting the results.