Inaugural GeoFLEX demonstration a success

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Members of the University of Waterloo’s Geophysical Society (UWGS) introduced classmates to the power of remote geophysical exploration this week, demonstrating two commonly used techniques – electromagnetic induction (EMI) and ground penetrating radar (GPR) – on a section of green space between SLC and M3.

"Why are we doing this? Well, in anything you’re going to do at work – whether it’s research, mining exploration, or responding to an underground leak, geophysical techniques are the first thing you’re going to use,” says Max Salman, one of the GeoFLEX organizers and president of the UWGS. “It's the most cost effective and quickest way to get an idea of what’s going on underground."

Sarah Griffith shown how to use ground penetrating radar by Dylan Klazinga.Sarah Griffith (Geophysics 3A) receives hands-on instruction on how to use ground penetrating radar (GPR) from Dylan Klazinga.

Approximately 15 undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences attended the first Geophysical Field Learning Exercise (GeoFLEX). The students not only got a crash course in the two technologies, there were also able to handle the instruments themselves and discuss possible structures hidden below the surface.

Max Salman demonstrates EMI to Zahra Akbarzadeh.“I have lots of experience in modeling, but I’ve never been in the field, so its good for me to have an idea of how people collect this type of data.” says Zahra Akbarzadeh, a PhD student with the Ecohydrology Research Group (pictured right learning electromagnetic induction (EMI) with Max Salman).

The organizers plan to invite students from each of Waterloo’s six Faculties every month. The next GeoFLEX demonstration in February will feature a demonstration for students in the Faculty of Arts.

"I look forward to seeing how students from other disciplines interact with this equipment and what kind of questions they’re going to ask,” said Salman. “These techniques are so powerful and so relevant to everyday life. We can find groundwater, map contamination in groundwater, locate power lines and even conduct mineral exploration – all without putting a single shovel in the ground."

The demonstrations were led by Max Salman and Dylan Klazinga, both master’s students with Professor Tony Endres in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Klazinga is also Secretary/Coordinator for the UWGS.

To learn more about the next GeoFLEX demonstration and other activities organized by the UW Geophysical Society, visit their website and facebook page.