Smartphone-based geophysical measurements

Project information
Smartphone-based geophysical measurements
  • Exploratory Teaching Space (ETS) of RWTH Aachen University
  • 2020/10
  • 1 year
  • Project completed
More information
Contact person
Florian M. Wagner's profile picture
Univ.-Prof. Dr. sc.
Florian M. Wagner

Geophysical measurements require the mobilization and operation of heavy and expensive equipment, which often sets limits on the group size. To provide a glimpse into the principle and logistics of geophysical fieldwork to a broad range of students in introductory B.Sc. courses, we have conceptualized the idea of carrying out lightweight geophysical experiments utilizing the sensors in modern smartphones . A corresponding proposal was funded by the Exploratory Teaching Space of RWTH Aachen University ( and the first student excursion was conducted with smartphone measurements in direct comparison with conventional geophysical equipment. As an example, the figure below shows a profile of magnetic measurements with a conventional geophysical magnetometer (G-858 MagMapper from Geometrics) and a common smartphone.

The data was acquired behind the main building of the E.ON Energy Research Center of RWTH Aachen University. The positive magnetic anomalies measured with common geophysical equipment and the smartphones (right panel in the figure below) clearly correlate with the location of the known gas pipe at approximately 10 meters along the profile. Currently, we are developing experiments and software to conduct magnetic mapping exercises with many students and smartphones over landfills and magmatic intrusions employing customized low-cost magnetometers with known temperature-dependence.

Project partner

The project was acquired and conducted together with assistant professor Dr. Norbert Klitzsch (CG3 - Computational Geoscience, Geothermics and Reservoir Geophysics).

Back to project overview