Applied and Environmental Geophysics

Geophysics makes it possible to non-invasively study physical properties at scales from the whole Earth to those of the shallowest soil layers. Geophysical techniques are widely used throughout the world to, among other things, better understand the Earth’s structure and composition, to locate and characterize hydrocarbon reservoirs and mineral deposits, and to evaluate groundwater resources and polluted sites.

The research at the Applied and Environmental Geophysics pole of the University of Lausanne includes most geophysical methods that are suitable to characterize the physical properties of the Earth from the meter- to the kilometer-scale. Our work is focused on how to improve the modeling of physical fields originating from geophysical experiments, how data are used to draw inferences about the three-dimensional and temporal variations in physical properties, and how to link geophysical model parameters to properties of primary importance for a range of pertinent applications. Our state-of-the-art instrument pool makes it possible to perform tailor-made multi-method investigations that can help to effectively address a wide range of geological, environmental, and hydrological problems

The major axes of the research are (i) the improved modeling and inversion of geophysical measurements, (ii) the use of these techniques to infer spatial and temporal variations in physical properties, and (iii) the links between these properties and target variables of interest. The state-of-the-art instrument pool, laboratory facilities, and computational resources allow for multi-method investigation of a wide range of geological, environmental, and hydrological problems.


Permanent research team

Applied geophysics and hydrogeophysics

Prof. Niklas Linde


His research focuses on how geophysical signals can be transformed into realistic images of (hydro)geological properties or representations of processes with appropriate quantification of uncertainty. The new approaches developed in his team are demonstrated with real case studies for various problems and systems (saturated or unsaturated, porous or fractured media).

Lines of research:

  • Hydrogeology and Hydrogeophysics
  • Electrical and electromagnetic methods
  • Geophysical and hydrogeophysical inversion theory 


Research group: Linde research team

Prof. Klaus Holliger

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His current field of research is hydrogeophysics sensu lato. As such, Klaus is interested in linking relatively easy to measure geophysical data with elusive hydraulic properties, notably permeability. To this end, his group and him are pursuing two approaches. Their original approach is based on the idea of using geostatistical techniques to integrate scattered measurements of the target's hydraulic parameters with the broader geophysical measurements. Their second approach is more direct and seeks to interpret certain attributes of the seismic data in terms of rock properties.

Lines of research:

  • Applied and Environmental Geophysics
  • Geostatistical Data Assimilation
  • Hydrogeophysics
  • Rock Physics


Prof. James Irving


James works with Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) tomography, which is a popular technique for characterizing the distribution of water content in the subsurface. The reason for this is the strong contrast in speed of electromagnetic (EM) waves between water and earth materials. However, with both surface and borehole GPR methods, there are a number of factors that limit the resolution of subsurface velocity (and hence water content) estimates that can be obtained using current data collection and processing methods.

Lines of research:

  • Hydrogeology
  • Geophysics
  • Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) tomography


Mountain chain formation and seismics

Prof. György Hetényi


György is interested in the geodynamics of the continental lithosphere: structure, deformation and associated physical processes. His principal tools of investigation are geophysical imaging (seismology, gravimetry) and numerical modelling (themo-mechanical, petrological).

Lines of research:

  • Geodynamics
  • Orogenesis
  • Seismology
  • Tectonics


Research group: OROG3NY

Fluid mechanics and rock physics

Prof. Pietro de Anna

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Pietro is interested in the physics of flow and mixing processes in confined micro-structures, such as filters or soil, with particular attention to their coupling with biological activities. In his group, they combine theoretical/numerical approaches of microfluidics experiments to visualize and quantify small-scale processes in confined flows, with a view to modeling their consequences at a larger scale (upscaling) on reactive transport and filtration phenomena.

Lines of research:

  • Microbial transport and chemotaxis
  • Microfluidics
  • Horizontal transfer of genes in confined environments
  • Reactive transport
  • Mixing by confined flow


Research Group: Environmental Fluid Mechanics

Prof. Beatriz Quintal

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Beatriz' research interests are all about hydro-mechanical properties of rocks, which she studies through numerical simulations and laboratory experiments. Her particular focus is on frequency-dependent attenuation of seismic waves associated with physical phenomena occurring in the pore fluid. These phenomena may occur at the pore scale or at larger scales and can be especially interesting in the case of fractured rocks or partial saturation.

Lines of research:

  • Rock physics
  • Poroelasticity
  • Rock mechanics


Research group: The Rock Physics Network (ROCKETH)


Associated research groups

Géopolis - CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 43 06
Fax +41 21 692 43 05