Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module OSX-4407:
Practical High Res Geophysics

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Dei Huws

Overall aims and purpose

This module will give students both a theoretical background in and practical experience of the acquisition, processing and analysis of oceanographic and geophysical data:

  • Students will be familiarised with various marine geo-acoustic techniques as a means of remotely sensing the (sub-)seabed. They will join the Research Vessel Prince Madog to collect a suite of data sets themselves. Students will gain experience with specialised software packages to process the data, integrate the various sources of information and to map / visualise this to a high standard. They will analyse and discuss the marine geological processes that have shaped the area of investigation.
  • Students will be taught to understand and write tender documents in relation to geophysical offshore site investigations.

Course content

Practical experience gained of

  • Geophysical surveying: sidescan sonar, sub-bottom profiling and sediment coring/sampling, acoustic core logging
  • Offshore data processing, data integration, report writing and scientific discussion on geological processes
  • Geographical Information System (GIS) software and Sub-bottom seismic interpretation software

Classroom activities:

  • Short course on GIS, geodesy and positioning
  • Short course on ocean acoustics
  • Short course on marine geoacoustics

Assessment Criteria


Performs only the basic processing necessary to display the survey data (small boat and Prince Madog survey). Little or no wider interpretation or critical appraisal of the techniques employed. No consideration of the errors associated with the data. Tender document reveals only the barest ideas of how to address the offshore site investigation problem given.


Performs most of the processing necessary to display the survey data in the most meaningful way (small boat and Prince Madog survey). Some attempt at interpretation and critical appraisal of the techniques employed. Consideration of the errors associated with the data, but incomplete appreciation of the implications of such errors. Tender document reveals competency in terms of addressing the offshore site investigation problem given.


Performs all the processing necessary to display the survey data and does so in novel ways. Wide ranging interpretation and thorough critical appraisal of the techniques employed. Consideration of the errors associated with the data and an appreciation of the implications of such errors to the final outcomes of the survey. Tender document reveals thorough competency in terms of addressing the offshore site investigation problem given.

Learning outcomes

  1. To conduct a range of Oceanographic and Geoscience surveys from the point of acquisition to the reporting stage.

  2. To process and interpret the data sets acquired, via an integrated Geographic Information System

  3. To critically analyse the underpinning acoustic theory and models used for interpretation

  4. To write a technical specification in relation to geophysical offshore site investigation.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK GIS exercise 25
COURSEWORK Time-lapse bathymetry exercise 25
COURSEWORK Site investigation planning 25
COURSEWORK Prince Madog survey report 25

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Workshops on GIS, (time-lapse) bathymetry, sub-bottom profiling and side scan sonar interpretation


Lectures on Geodesy/Positioning 3 hours. Lectures on GIS 2 hours. Introduction to ocean acoustics 5 hours. Oceanographic instrumentation 4 hours. Marine Geo-acoustics 10 hours.


Fieldwork on Prince Madog: 1 day

Private study

Learning and preparing assessments


Seminars – external speakers from industry


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.


Talis Reading list

Reading list

  • Reynolds, 2011. An Introduction to Applied and Environmental Geophysics. (2nd Edition). Wiley-Blackwell
  • Willie, P. C. 2005. Sound Images of the Ocean in Research and Monitoring. Springer
  • Great start: "Intro to Underwater Acoustics" by Lurton 2010: Chapter 2
  • Perfect overview paper: Jacobsson et al., 2016. Mapping submarine glacial landforms using acoustic methods. From: Dowdeswell, J. A., Canals, M., Jakobsson, M., Todd, B. J., Dowdeswell, E. K. & Hogan, K. A. (eds) 2016. Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms: Modern, Quaternary and Ancient. Geological Society, London, Memoirs, 46, 17– 40, This is downloadable from:
  • Wölfl et al., 2019: Seafloor Mapping – The Challenge of a Truly Global Ocean Bathymetry:

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: