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Aims and scope

Near Surface Geophysics is an international journal for the publication of research and development in geophysics applied to near surface. It places emphasis on geological, hydrogeological, geotechnical, environmental, engineering, mining, archaeological, agricultural and other applications of geophysics as well as physical soil and rock properties. Geophysical and geoscientific case histories with innovative use of geophysical techniques are welcome, which may include improvements on instrumentation, measurements, data acquisition and processing, modelling, inversion, interpretation, project management and multidisciplinary use. The papers should also be understandable to those who use geophysical data but are not necessarily geophysicists.

Impact Factor 2013: 1.01

Near Surface Geophysics is indexed/abstracted in the Current Contents/ Physical, Chemical & Earth Sciences , ISI Alerting Service and Science Citation Index Expanded .

Near Surface Geophysics is published 6 times a year.

New EAGE publication!

Application Manual of Geophysical Methods to Engineering and Environmental Problems
Edited by the Society of the Exploration Geophysicists of Japan

This manual has been prepared for young geophysicists and geotechnical engineers with some experience or interest in geophysical surveys and clients who use the result of geophysical surveys. This book neither introduces new methods nor attempts to explain the latest technological advances in geophysics. Instead, it is a manual aimed at fostering a common understanding of geophysical surveys between geophysicists and their clients. The main chapters describe procedures for planning, data acquisition, analysis and reporting for twenty geophysical survey methods that are widely used.

Although some techniques explained in this book were developed for local applications in Japan, the information is also expected to be useful in neighboring Asian nations and other countries where there are complicated geological structures. We believe this will be useful to all geophysicists and engineers worldwide. We decided to publish this English edition to commemorate the 65th anniversary of SEGJ with the cooperation of EAGE.

This book describes the basic procedures common in geophysical surveys in Japan. Only the basics are presented for new methods and applications. Other methods may also be applicable, depending on the stage, objective, or purpose of the exploration. Readers are advised of the importance of understanding the concepts behind the procedures rather than simply following the procedure described, particularly when the techniques are used under different conditions.

Major methods, such as ground-penetrating radar and seismic surveys, are classed in chapters. For some survey methods, different approaches in measurement are summarized in subchapters. For example, a summary and an overview of common electrical prospecting methods are given at the beginning of Chapter 6 and three different measurements (self-potential, resistivity sounding and two- and three-dimensional resistivity) are summarized in subchapters 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3, respectively. Thus, each chapter or subchapter helps the reader to understand the procedure of planning and implementing the survey method. 

Chapter 1 outlines the general procedures of geophysical surveys. This is an important chapter that describes the guidelines that are common to all the geophysical techniques. We strongly recommend the readers to read this chapter before proceeding to the subsequent chapters of specific survey methods. 

In each chapter, the first section outlines the procedures and presents an overview of the method. In the second part of the chapter, the applicability of the method appropriate to the purpose and target is introduced. The general procedure from planning and preparation, on-site measurement, data reduction, analysis to interpretation is explained.

Depending on the importance, the notes are classified into three ranks: boxes containing items, notes and supplementary notes:
1) Boxes containing items: basics and most important items.
2) Notes: Notes on practice and points to notice.
3) Supplementary Notes: Matters that should be considered and practiced in some cases.

The terms are expressed in bulleted lists with brief statements. Some of the notes and items in the boxes can also be used in a particular specification. The theory, background and detailed methods for these items are described after the terms. Apart from the commentary and items, knowledge regarding each technique is provided in a “coffee-break” column.

The deliverables of each method are described in the last part of the chapters. The deliverables usually include a report with attached documents and electronic files. For example, in Japan, image files of the final report of a geophysical survey for civil engineering designs must be delivered electronically to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Electronic delivery allows tracing back the survey procedure, re-evaluating the data quality and re-analyzing the survey data. 

This is a practical book in geophysical surveys and only minimal descriptions of the theoretical background are included. Readers who wish to learn more about the theoretical aspects of the methods should refer to textbooks of the method.
Finally, we thank all those who contributed to this English edition.
Takao Aizawa (Chief Editor)

For more information please visit the EAGE Bookshop.  


Paper Call for a Special Issue on Civil and Environmental Engineering Applications of Ground Penetrating Radar

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) has been increasingly used over the last few years in a wide range of applications, due to its flexibility and high potential for providing characterization and imaging of structures and materials. Overall, there are several reasons why demand is increasing for both this tool and non-destructive testing techniques (NDTs) in general. It is worth citing technological advances in both hardware and software elements, an intrinsic lower significance of measurements provided by traditional monitoring techniques, concern about the invasiveness of measuring processes and the impact on the environment and, last but not least, the impact of the Global Economic Crisis on the use of economic resources affecting countries worldwide for years ahead. A combination of these factors has piqued the interest of several skill profiles spanning researchers, practitioners and end-users in general, and has focused the attention of governments and local authorities on the possibility of gathering a large amount of information in a relatively short time of surveying. 

Several fields of application can be covered by the use of GPR in civil engineering, including transportation and structural employment, coastal and geotechnical application, and environmental issues since the use of this non-destructive tool always assists conservation and better management of environmental heritage, including archaeological investigation. Over the past few years, the use of integrated geophysical prospection methods, such as electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) or seismic methods, has also seen an increase in uptake worldwide, as it enables improved imaging and data interpretation.

Our intent is to collect in an NSG special issue works on the most recent GPR instruments and techniques used in the dual field of civil and environmental engineering applications, even where combined with other NDTs. We will aim to gather the highest possible quality of work in these two main fields of application. Accordingly, we invite the submission of papers dealing with the following topics:

Only original manuscripts can be submitted according to the ‘Guidance for Authors’ published on the NSG website www.nsg.eage.org. As regards the online submission system of Near Surface Geophysics, authors are invited to refer to the address http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/nsg.
Please mention the name of the special issue in your cover letter. 
All manuscripts will be peer-reviewed according to the journals' established policies and procedures. Final papers will be selected for publication depending on both the results of the peer review process and reviews by guest editors as well as by the chief editor.

The deadline for manuscript submission to the NSG special issue is November 30th, 2014.
Publication: 2015

All inquiries regarding this call for papers should be directed to the guest editors: 
Prof. Andrea Benedetto1*  (andrea.benedetto@uniroma3.it)
Prof. Andreas Loizos2         (aloizos@central.ntua.gr)
Dr. Lara Pajewski1             (lara.pajewski@uniroma3.it) 
Dr. Fabio Tosti1                (fabio.tosti@uniroma3.it)

1 Department of Engineering, Roma Tre University, Via Vito Volterra 62, 00146, Rome, Italy
2 Department of Transportation Planning and Engineering, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), 5, Iroon Polytechniou St., Zografou, Athens 15773, Greece

Publication coordinator Kasia Zuk (kzk@eage.org) will be happy to assist you in managing your submission.

Key Dates
Submission of full paper online: November 30th, 2014
Feedback from first-round reviews issued: January 2015
Revised manuscripts due: March 2015
Feedback from second-round reviews issued (if need be): April 2015
Final manuscripts due: July 2015
Planned publication: 2015

Crosstalk by Andrew McBarnet: Near surface geoscientists deserve more recognition for their expertise

Next month’s Near Surface Geoscience 2014 event in Athens augurs well for the efforts being made to raise the visibility of the many geoscience professionals whose work in numerous sectors of industry and academia tends to be overshadowed by the oil and gas industry juggernaut.

The addition of two new parallel events – the First Applied Shallow Marine Geophysics Conference and the First International EuroGPR School – is a positive step in terms of attracting a larger attendance and providing a bigger forum for sharing knowledge and networking. However, it is still a long way from the desire often articulated by the near geoscience specialist community for a better defined more coherent identity. That goal may of course prove something of a mirage given the challenges. 

Geoscientists working outside the oil and gas business are the nomads of the profession in that they work in so many different areas employing such a variety of techniques. By contrast, oil and gas geoscience is predominately focused on reflection seismic with other applications less of a look in. EAGE has come to providing a welcome collective tent for these disparate interests. Indeed,  whoever came up with the term ‘near surface’ to encompass the range of activities involved deserves a medal. We are talking about the geosciences at work in established fields, such as hydrogeology, environmental monitoring, engineering geology and geomechanics, mining and civil engineering. These days, there is also growing interest in applications for agriculture, soil sciences, archaeology, non-destructive testing and forensic investigations. The full range will doubtless be on display in Athens.

The success story of EAGE’s Near Surface Geophysics journal, now well into its second decade, clearly demonstrates that a channel of communication for such a varied portfolio of research serves a purpose, is respected and appreciated. The real issue is how far the quest for an identity can be taken. For example, near surface is a description that neatly dodges the depth question. In earlier days the term loosely referred to activity down to around 100 m. But in reality there can be no arbitrary limit. Different depths apply to different disciplines. In agriculture, archaeology and a lot of engineering/construction type work, minimal depths of a few metres are involved, but something like post-closure safety studies of radioactive waste sites require applications associated with near surface geophysics down to 800 m or more.

Techniques typically claimed for near surface include magnetics, gravity, resistivity measurements, seismic reflection and refraction, induced polarisation, electromagnetics, magnetic resonance, interferometry, seismo-electronic methods plus many other more or less esoteric geophysical methods for measuring and interpreting the shallows of the earth. In Athens, the impressive advances in ground penetrating radar
are being highlighted, and rightly so. 

The problem is that not all these techniques are exclusive to near surface. Most obviously, reflection seismic, gravity, magnetics and electromagnetics are staples of the oil and gas E&P industry. Introducing the Applied Shallow Marine Geophysics conference in Athens features the attention being increasingly paid by offshore E&P operators to improved understanding of the immediate seabed subsurface.

The obvious conclusion is that the nature of the geophysical/geoscientific method and its many tentacles cannot be conveniently divided into tidy categories. But this is not helpful, because the value and potential of much nearsurface activity is arguably still not being sufficiently acknowledged. This is what some form of organised grouping of like-minded professionals can address. 

An exercise in communication and education would seem to be required if the possibilities of near surface geophysics are to be better recognized. Some of the fundamental issues are well covered by Professor Peter Styles, the distinguished geophysicist and past-president of the Geological Society of London, in his one-day EAGE Education Tour presentation entitled ‘Everything you wanted (needed) to know about Environmental Geophysics but were afraid to ask!’ The course preamble really says it all. 

He points out that too much of the literature and courses dealing with environmental/near surface geophysics is ‘inward’ facing, in other words aimed at professional geophysicists or students, and not “truly accessible” to the stakeholders and commissioners.’ That obviously leads to a knowledge gap between geoscientists and their potential customers.

Opportunities may be missed simply because the value of particular techniques are not properly understood or appreciated. If this is the case, it is particularly unfortunate because the market could not be more favourable. Environmental hazards, often the result of previous industrial activity, demand some study of the shallow subsurface. But, as Prof Styles points out, excessive old-style trial pitting, drilling and excavation can compromise the very area requiringremedial treatment. The result is that regulatory authorities and operators are turning more frequently to non-intrusive geophysical techniques to characterize the subsurface and to minimize the amount of borehole excavation required.

Pulling no punches, Prof Styles states: ‘Poor specification, poor advice, lack of knowledge about the appropriateness or otherwise of the tools available to address the task, adherence to methods which are defensible in litigation rather than right for the problem have all led to aposition where there is a lack of trust between engineers, who are usually in the position of client, and environmental geophysicists.’ He also suggests that advances in automated geophysical instrumentation can lead to inappropriately implemented applications. What particularly concerns Prof Styles is that non-intrusive geophysics is increasingly being regarded as the method of choice for subsurface investigations in especially sensitive projects, such as radioactive waste, geological disposal facilities, and in future, of underground gas storage and sequestration of CO2. These are cases where legislators seek to minimize drilling, but in so doing lay more of the risk, including financial, on geophysicists.

Assuming Prof Styles is correct in his analysis, the solutions are not straightforward. Better promotion of evolving geophysical techniques to potential clients is clearly required, but is not easy. Engineers cannot be expected to regard a geophysical procedure as the routine or de rigueur solution in site investigations without convincing demonstration of the benefit. One can also guess that near surface geophysics disciplines are generally more favourably received in the industrialised parts of the world, possibly from quite a basic starting point.

It is of course tempting to ponder whether it would help if the present groupings of near surface geoscientists could be converted into a professional body with its own qualifications and standards. The sheer diversity of the tasks undertaken and the skills required would seem to rule out the concept, and as previously discussed, the seismic departments of oil and gas companies are made up of geoscientists too.

The picture that emerges is that the near surface geoscience community deserves to be better recognized for the range of services and expertise it can provide and when possible be perceived as separate from the oil and gas sector, a point well made by new EAGE president Philip Ringrose (see p. 3). This latter aspiration raises the fundamental issue of recruitment and resources. Near surface geoscience personnel are typically to be found scattered in small companies and consultancies. Their services do not demand the major industrial scale investment in equipment and staff needed for the acquisition, processing and interpretation of oil and gas land and marine seismic surveys. This obviously puts the near surface world at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting the best and the brightest young professional recruits, especially when the pool of potential geoscientists is diminishing as a result of government policy and the pushback against science in school curricula.

If financial reward and a clear career path is the goal, then students will surely be predisposed to choose the oil industry sector. It is also the case that the scale and challenge of oilfield projects, the potential for seeing the world and, for the research-minded, the pace of technology advance made possible by the resources available are all criteria hard to resist.

Of course, this mindset does not apply to everyone. Some students will become intrigued by a particular facet of near surface geoscience and want to pursue it wherever that might lead; others may simply be deterred by the corporate image and dealings of the oil business and its service sector. 

Concern for the environment is often articulated as a priority by aspiring young geoscientists, including those signing up for the oil and gas industry. The EAGE annual Recruitment Special bears this out. In interviews with students and young professionals, their choice of oil company invariably seems to be influenced by a perception of that company’s stewardship of the environment. This is a ball that the near surface geoscience community can surely run with. A high proportion of its entire activity is based on some form of care, as opposed to exploitation,of our environment. But to do so, we come back to the need for some form of professional entity which can direct and support initiatives aimed at promoting awareness among students. 

Next month’s meeting in Athens at least signals renewed energy being devoted to the near surface geoscience cause. The irony, which has probably escaped no one, is that near surface could be interpreted as meaning, not quite reached the surface yet. That possibly best describes the current status. 

Views expressed in Crosstalk are solely those of the author, who can be contacted at andrew@andrewmcbarnet.com.

(Source: First Break August 2014)

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