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Geophysics deals with all of the Earth’s relevant physical phenomena. It includes various fields and can be subdivided according to research methods and their relevant applications.

Seismic data from the Rhone Valley
Seismic data from the Rhone Valley, near Martigny


As a subdivision of earth science, geophysics researches the natural phenomena and processes of the Earth and its environment. It deals with technical aspects and geophysical maps. Geophysics investigates the structure of the Earth’s interior and all seismic, electrical, thermal and magnetic phenomena of the Earth. Physics of the atmosphere (Meteorology), physics of water (hydrology, oceanography) and physics of the planets (planetary science) are examples of subdivisions of geophysics.

Research methods and applications of geophysics:
The theoretical geophysics deals with the mathematical fundamentals of geophysics and their application in simulating geophysical processes.
With the laboratory tests of experimental geophysics, the aim is often to investigate the properties of materials – under conditions, as they exist in the Earth’s interior.
Applied geophysics explores the underground with geophysical methods of measurement. The results are used for practical purposes:

  • Exploration in the search of raw materials (petroleum, water, ores)
  • Finding suitable repository sites
  • Brownfield, construction and archaeological site investigations.

Geophysical surveys are often also conducted from within a borehole (borehole geophysics).
Typical geophysical survey methods (according to the appropriate field characteristic):

  • Potential fields (elliptical differential equations): geoelectrics, geomagnetics, geothermal energy, gravimetry
  • Diffusion fields (parabolic differential equations): magnetotellurics, geoelectromagnetics and Very Low Frequency (VLF)
  • Wave fields (hyperbolic differential equations): seismology, seismics and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)
  • Special case (radiation): radiometry

The geophysical land survey continuously updates the state of knowledge of the geophysical conditions of Switzerland. It represents geophysical parameters and their changes over time in the form of maps and reports. Their findings have an impact on decisions for sustainable use and development of natural regions.

Who is who

Geophysics has an important role at the Swiss universities, in the federal government and in some geology bureaus.

Geophysics is taught and researched at the Swiss universities (e.g. ETHZ, University of Lausanne). Commissions of the Geosciences Platform (SCNAT) carry out the national surveys in the field of geophysics and geodesy (SGPK, SGC) on behalf of the federal government. Several environmental and geological bureaus use different geophysical survey methods, which can be searched by using the "Geophysical Recipes” application. The above-mentioned organizations are linked to national and international professional associations.


Federal Government, Commissions, Private Bureaus

International Associations

Conferences and Workshops


Nationale und internationale Links zu Datensätzen, Datenbanken, Karten und anderen Produkten im Bereich Geophysik

The Geological Data Viewer forms the visual access to the data of the Swiss Geological Survey and other institutions in the field of earth sciences.
Geophysical maps and reports are provided by:

  • the Swiss Geophysical Commission (SGPK)
  • the Federal Office of Topography (swisstopo)
  • the Swiss Seismological Service (SED)

Other national and international organizations offer seismic, geomagnetic, gravimetric and meteorological records via geoportals.



Fundamentals of Geology

Milan Beres Dr. sc. nat.
Scientific Associate
swisstopo / Swiss Geological Survey
Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern
+41 58 469 05 74


Milan Beres

Dr. sc. nat.
Scientific Associate
swisstopo / Swiss Geological Survey
Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern

Gravimetric Map of Switzerland: Bouguer Anomalies

Gravimetric Atlas of Switzerland: measurement points

Aeromagnetic Map of Switzerland