N452 Gravity and Magnetics for Petroleum Exploration

Course Facts

Course Code:
3 days
2.4 Continuing Education Units
24 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


This course explains and illustrates, with exercises, the use of gravity and magnetic techniques for petroleum exploration. It provides participants with tools to assess the usefulness of these techniques in their project workflows, and to implement them in a sensible and cost-effective manner.

Duration and Training Method

A three-day classroom course. Teaching is conducted in an informal manner with introductory talks followed by practical exercises. Attendees working in teams are encouraged to discuss their interpretations. Case histories are presented from a variety of different geological settings world-wide. With advance notice, client-confidential project datasets can also be included.

Participants will learn to:
  1. Understand basic gravity and magnetic theory.
  2. Appraise gravity and magnetic responses of simple block models.
  3. Assess benefits and limitations of the available survey techniques.
  4. Use publicly-available gravity and magnetic datasets for regional prospectivity analysis.
  5. Apply filters and other image processing techniques to emphasise geological features of exploration interest.
  6. Determine the usefulness of gravity and magnetic techniques on individual petroleum exploration projects.
 A) Fundamentals (Talk)

•  Rock physical properties

•  Units of measurement

•  Gravity vs magnetic studies

B) Gravity Fields (Talk)

•  Introduction

•  Physical principles

•  The gravity field of the earth

•  Data processing

•  Data imaging

•  Interpretation

•  Case studies

C) Block Modelling (Exercise)

We will model some simple bodies to get a feel for how gravity measurements are affected by changes in density and changes in geometry.

D) Magnetic Fields (Talk)

•  Introduction

•  Physical principles

•  The geomagnetic field

•  Data processing

•  Data imaging

•  Interpretation

•  Case studies

E) Block Modelling (Exercise)

We will model some simple bodies to get a feel for how magnetic measurements are affected by changes in susceptibility and changes in geometry, and how magnetic measurements compare with gravity measurements.

F) Free and nearly-free datasets (Talk)

Publicly-available gravity and magnetic datasets can be freely downloaded or purchased at nominal rates to help with regional prospectivity analysis. We explore some of these datasets, and use them to model offshore basin development and onshore fault networks.

G) Filtering (Exercise)

A range of geophysical and mathematical filters are available for enhancing the geological information present within gravity and magnetic datasets. We provide a short introduction to Fourier-based filtering techniques, including upward and downward continuation, spatial derivative calculation, edge detection and source localisation. We then apply what we have learned to real-world exploration datasets.

H) Attendees’ Feedback and Conclusions (Open Forum)

Who should attend

Graduate-level geoscientists who require a working knowledge of gravity and magnetic techniques applied to petroleum exploration. Experienced geoscientists who wish to understand the advantages and limitations of these techniques for individual projects. Those wishing to attend are expected to have a working knowledge of fundamental geological concepts, as well as petroleum exploration methods.

Prerequisites and linking courses

There are no prerequisites for this course. Follow-up topics include Depth to Basement Estimation using Gravity and Magnetics and Gravity Gradiometry.

Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

Tim Archer