GEOLOGY 3022 - Geophysics IIIA: Potential Fields and Geothermics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2022

Geophysicists are employed in a wide range of industries, including petroleum and mineral exploration, groundwater, contaminants and salinity evaluation, state and government geological surveys, defence science and academic research. This course investigates potential field-based geophysical techniques and diffusive heat flow, covering topics in gravity, magnetics, and steady-state and transient geothermics. We start with the underlying mathematical basis and examine applications at global, exploration and environmental scales. The course also involves methods of geophysical data analysis, modelling, visualisation and interpretation through a series of computer laboratories. The course is aimed at students from a range of numerate scientific backgrounds including geoscience, physics, engineering, mathematics and computer sciences.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code GEOLOGY 3022
    Course Geophysics IIIA: Potential Fields and Geothermics
    Coordinating Unit School of Physical Sciences
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites MATHS 1013 or SACE Stage 2 Specialist Maths or equivalent
    Incompatible GEOLOGY 3008
    Assumed Knowledge GEOLOGY 1100 and PHYSICS 1100 & PHYSICS 1200 or PHYSICS 1101 & PHYSICS 1201
    Assessment Problem sets, practical reports and unit tests
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Derrick Hasterok

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. discuss both quantitatively and conceptually how gravity, magnetic and thermal fields are modified bydifferences in rock composition and/or structure and determine how these effects are manifest in the responses of fields at Earth’s surface;
    2. discuss the assumptions applied to geophysical equations and the conditions under which they apply to gravity,magnetic and thermal phenomena;
    3. analyse complex mathematical relationships to determine characteristic temporal and spatial scales of gravity,magnetic and thermal anomalies and their evolution;
    4. develop mathematical and computer skills to interrogate data and model the geophysical fields; and
    5. work together in groups to create, process and analyse experimental data

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    4, 5

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.

    1, 3, 4, 5

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Recommended Resources
    The intellectual content of the course is drawn from a number of sources including:

    Geophysics specific

    Fowler, C.M.R., 2005, The Solid Earth, 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Turcotte, D.L., and G. Schubert, 2002, Geodynamics, 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Lowrie, W., 1997, Fundamentals of Geophysics, Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Jaupart C., and J.-C. Mareschal, 2011, Heat Generation and Transport in the Earth, Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Telford, W.M., L.P. Geldart, R.E. Sheriff, and D.A. Keys, Applied Geophysics, 1976, Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Numerical methods and Inversion theory

    Gerya, T., 2010, Introduction to Numerical Geodynamic Modelling, Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Aster, R.C., B. Borchers, and C.H. Thurber, 2012, Parameter Estimation and Inverse Problems, 2nd ed., Academic Press.

    Useful background texts in physics and mathematics:

    Feynman, R.P., R.B. Leighton, and M. Sands, 1965, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. 1, Addison-Wesley.

    Haberman, R., 1998, Elementary Applied Differential Equations, 3rd. ed., Prentice Hall.

    Zwillinger, D. (ed.), 1996, Standard Mathematical Tables and Formulae, 30th ed., CRC Press.
    Online Learning
    Wolfram Alpha is a useful resource for checking answers, or helping take derivatives and integrals.
    Believe it or not, Wikipedia is generally an excellent source for relatively understandable math resources.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Lectures will derive and discuss fundamental geophysical concepts and their relationship to geologic structures and petrologic variations.

    Problem sets with short answer and quantitative exercises give students the opportunity to practice their knowledge of content and apply fundamental concepts covered in lectures. Completed outside of normal class hours, the problem sets will allow students to set their own pace.

    Practicals will provide laboratory and/or computer-based activities that stress application of geophysical concepts and synthesis with geological and petrological knowledge through computer exercises and group work.

    Online Tutorials will cover quantitative background concepts that students enrolled in the course may lack or require as review. Tutorials will be delivered as a short introductory video, example worked problems, and self-directed problems meant to provide experience and build confidence. The focus is specifically on improving mathematical skills and knowledge of physical concepts necessary to understand lectures and complete problem sets.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Unit 1 – Basic Geophysics: geophysical equations, fields, and physical properties, modern methods, inverse theory.

    Unit 2 – Gravity and Magnetics: gravity and magnetic fields, isostasy, and Fourier methods.

    Unit 3 – Geothermics: steady-state, transient and latent heat solutions.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type % of total assessment Due Hurdle Learning Outcome
    practicals Formative & Summative



    No 1-5
    problem sets Formative & Summative 30 fortnightly No 1-3
    unit tests Summative 40 weeks 4, 9, and 13 No 1-3
    online tutorals Formative 0 fortnightly No 1-3
    Assessment Detail
    Practicals and problem sets will run in alternate weeks.

    Practicals: (30% of total course grade)

    Practicals will focus on reinforcing and expanding upon quantitative concepts discussed in lecture through lab and/or computer-based exercises where students work in groups to complete a practical exercise.  Work will be assessed via a practical reports that includes additional post-practical exercises.  The reports will be due one week from assigned date. Students will receive feedback approximately one week later.  The marks for practicals will be determined by 5% online peer assessment, 10% group results, and 15% post-practical exercises.


    Problem sets: (30% of total course grade)

    Problems sets will focus on reinforcing and expanding upon quantitative concepts discussed in lecture through predominantly mathematical derivations and back-of-the-envelope estimates.  Problem sets should take approximately 8 hours to complete. Each problem must be attempted and submitted individually although some discussion between students is encouraged. Students will receive feedback approximately one week later.


    Online Tutorials: (0% of total course grade)

    Tutorials will provide an opportunity for students to improve quantitative skills required to understand course material and complete problem sets.

    Unit Tests: (40% of total course grade)

    There will be three, 90-minute tests worth 13.3% each. Tests will cover material covered in the course notes, lectures, and practicals. Quizzes will consist of short answer and simple qualitative and quantitative exercises. Unit tests will be held approximately one week following the completion of a unit. Students will receive feedback approximately one week later.

    Extensions for Assessment Tasks
    Extensions of deadlines for assessment tasks may be allowed for reasonable causes. Such situations would include compassionate and medical grounds of the severity that would justify the awarding of a supplementary examination. Evidence for the grounds must be provided when an extension is requested. Students are required to apply for an extension to the Course Co-ordinator before the assessment task is due. Extensions will not be provided on the grounds of poor prioritising of time. The assessment extension application form can be obtained from:

    Late submission of assessments
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply.  A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.