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Gravity and magnetic geophysical methods are passive.

Reflection seismic surveys indicate changes in the acoustic impedance of rocks, especially where
these changes occur across relatively flat-lying boundaries. Lateral variations in rock density give
rise to gravity anomalies, and lateral variations in rock magnetization produce magnetic anomalies.
Distribution and internal zoning of plutons and volcanics, configurations of metamorphic zones, and
structural patterns in crystalline rocks can be vividly reflected in magnetic maps.
The most direct method of detection of ore via magnetism involves detecting iron ore mineralisation
via mapping magnetic anomalies associated with banded iron formationswhich usually
contain magnetite in some proportion. Skarn mineralisation, which often contains magnetite, can
also be detected though the ore minerals themselves would be non-magnetic. Similarly, magnetite,
hematite and often pyrrhotite are common minerals associated with hydrothermal alteration, and this
alteration can be detected to provide an inference that some mineralising hydrothermal event has
affected the rocks.
Gravity surveying can be used to detect dense bodies of rocks within host formations of less dense
wall rocks. This can be used to directly detect Mississippi Valley Type ore deposits, IOCG ore
deposits, iron ore deposits, skarn deposits and salt diapirs which can form oil and gas traps.
Electromagnetic (EM) surveys can be used to help detect a wide variety of mineral deposits,
especially base metal sulphides via detection of conductivity anomalies which can be generated
around sulphide bodies in the subsurface. EM surveys are also used in diamond exploration (where
the kimberlite pipes tend to have lower resistance than enclosing
rocks), graphite exploration, palaeochannel-hosted uranium deposits (which are associated with
shallow aquifers, which often respond to EM surveys in conductive overburden). These are indirect
inferential methods of detecting mineralisation, as the commodity being sought is not directly
conductive, or not sufficiently conductive to be measurable. EM surveys are also used in unexploded
ordnance, archaeological, and geotechnical investigations.
Regional EM surveys are conducted via airborne methods, using either fixed-wing aircraft or
helicopter-borne EM rigs. Surface EM methods are based mostly on Transient EM methods using
surface loops with a surface receiver, or a downhole tool lowered into a borehole which transects a
body of mineralisation. These methods can map out sulphide bodies within the earth in 3
dimensions, and provide information to geologists to direct further exploratory drilling on known
mineralisation. Surface loop surveys are rarely used for regional exploration, however in some cases
such surveys can be used with success (e.g.; SQUID surveys for nickel ore bodies).
Electric-resistance methods such as induced polarization methods can be useful for directly
detecting sulfide bodies, coal and resistive rocks such as salt and carbonates.

Oil and gas

Seismic reflection techniques are the most widely used geophysical technique in hydrocarbon
exploration. They are used to map the subsurface distribution of stratigraphy and its structure which
can be used to delineate potential hydrocarbon accumulations. Well logging is another widely used
technique as it provides necessary high resolution information about rock and fluid properties in a
vertical section, although they are limited in areal extent. This limitation in areal extent is the reason
why seismic reflection techniques are so popular; they provide a method for interpolating and
extrapolating well log information over a much larger area.
Gravity and magnetics are also used, with considerable frequency, in oil and gas exploration. These
can be used to determine the geometry and depth of covered geological structures
including uplifts, subsiding basins, faults, folds, igneous intrusions and salt diapirs due to their
unique density and magnetic susceptibility signatures compared to the surrounding rocks.
Remote sensing techniques, specifically hyperspectral imaging, have been used to detect
hydrocarbon microseepages using the spectral signature of geochemically altered soils and
Magnetotellurics and Controlled source electro-magnetics can provide pseudo-direct detection of
hydrocarbons by detecting resistivity changes. It can also complement seismic data when imaging
below salt.

Ground penetrating radar can be used to map buried artifacts, such as graves, mortuaries, wreck
sites, and other shallowly buried archaeological sites.
Ground magnetometric surveys can be used for detecting buried ferrous metals, useful in surveying
shipwrecks, modern battlefields strewn with metal debris, and even subtle disturbances such as
large-scale ancient ruins.
Sonar systems can be used to detect shipwrecks.
Ground penetrating radar can be used to detect grave sites. Magnetic and electromagnetic surveys
can be used to locate unexploded ordnance.