Earth and Planetary Science
EPS Geophysics

Geophysics

Geophysics seeks to understand the vast and complicated body that is the earth.  Because most of the earth's interior is inaccessible to direct observation, the geophysicist uses the basic principles of physics to devise indirect methods of exploring those parts of the earth that cannot be reached by shovel or drill bit. Looking deep into our earth, we are confronted with basic, profound, and intricate questions:  How did the earth evolve?  How does it compare with the moon and other planets? What causes continents to move, mountains to form, and volcanoes to erupt?  Why do earthquakes occur and how can their effects be mitigated?  What accounts for the heat that seeps out of the earth and what causes its magnetic field?  What happens to a mineral when it encounters the high pressures and temperatures found deep within the earth? These questions require an interdisciplinary approach that links the disciplines of mathematics, physics, geology, and chemistry.  Moreover, your study here will encompass theoretical and experimental science as well as fieldwork to study geodynamic processes and the structure of the Earth and other planets. 

The broad scope of the geophysics track opens up a wide variety of employment opportunities. Petroleum companies, mining and quarrying companies, geotechnical firms, environmental firms, and construction firms are among the potential employers in private industry.  Government at the federal, state, and local levels employs geophysicists for a variety of tasks, ranging from the administration of regulations to the monitoring of earth data to the performance of original research. Colleges and universities, non-profit research institutions, and museums also hire geophysicists.  With the entire earth as the subject of study, it is not unusual for many geophysical jobs to involve travel to the far corners of the globe. 

Geophysics Major Requirements

Geophysics Major Worksheet

For more information about specific course and unit requirements please refer to the EPS majors page or visit Nadine Spingola-Hutton, the undergraduate advisor, or Prof. Doug Dreger, faculty advisor, at dreger@seismo.berkeley.edu, Room 281 McCone.