Dr. Ed Wightman


Ph.D. Applied Geophysics, Leeds University, England
Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Geophysics, Leeds University, England.
B.Sc. Physics/Mathematics, London University, England
Registered Geophysicist in California (#955)
OSHA 40 Hour Health and Safety training
United States Citizen.


A Geophysicist with over 20 years experience successfully applying a wide variety of geophysical techniques to the search for groundwater, minerals and hydrocarbons along with environmental and engineering applications. Corporations worked for include the South Australian Department of Mines, Sherritt Gordon Mines (in Canada), Anaconda Minerals Corporation, ARCO, Compgnie Generale de Geophysique (CGG) and ARCADIS Geraghty & Miller.

Selected Projects

Groundwater Exploration

Managed a geophysical project for the Government of Botswana searching for supplies of fresh groundwater in the remote Northern region of the country. Airborne magnetic, electromagnetic and Digital Terrain Mapping methods were used along with ground magnetic and electromagnetic (Transient Electromagnetic Soundings) methods. Successfully found large supplies of fresh water.

Mapped the saturated sediments under and adjacent to the Ohio river for a large Mid Western water utility company using automated resistivity measurements along the river and Transient Electromagnetic soundings along the river banks. Interpreted the best location for wells based on estimated relative porosity and saturated layer thickness.

Searched for, and found, groundwater supplies for Aboriginal settlements in the center of Australia. Also solved groundwater problems related to supplies to vineyards in Australia.

Visited Nigeria for the World Bank to teach geophysical methods for water exploration. Monitored the results of later surveys done by the participants. Exploration success went from about 50% with no geophysics to over 80% when geophysical methods were applied.

Mineral Exploration
Located a commercially important supply of Fluorite using resistivity methods in England. This led to significant research funding to Leeds University by the mining company involved.

Used gravity and aeromagnetic methods to define the structure and related mineralogy of the large open pit mine at Butte, Montana. The interpretation was confirmed by drilling.

Performed many surveys for mineral exploration using almost all ground methods along with numerous aeromagnetic and airborne electromagnetic surveys. The ground surveys included Spectral Induced Polarization, which was used to discriminate mineral types and habitat. Managed a long-term research project involving Spectral Induced Polarization.

Wrote software for Sherritt Gordon Mines (Canada) to process and interpret aeromagnetic and airborne electromagnetic data. Aeromagnetic routines included reduction to the pole, analytic function, Werner deconvolution, continuation and many filtering routines. Wrote software to interpret ground geophysical methods.

Hydrocarbon Exploration
Used Transient Electromagnetic soundings to map the salt water/gas interface at a gas field in Oklahoma at depths over 2000 feet. This was the first time this technique had been used for this purpose in the United States.

Processed reflection seismic data for hydrocarbon exploration for Compagnie Generale de Geophysique (CGG) using standard processing methods along with amplitude versus offset (AVO) techniques.

Managed a research project for ARCO to evaluate theories regarding reported pyrite haloes over oil/gas fields. Performed Induced Polarization (IP) surveys over several fields showing that IP anomalies were observed. Concluded that the pyrite haloes were authentic and resulted from hydrogen sulfide gasses migrating upwards from the hydrocarbon fields which were then interacting with iron in the overlying sediments and producing pyrite.

Conducted and interpreted electrical research surveys over volcanic areas where it was not possible to obtain good seismic data. Mapped the thickness of volcanic layers and generated structural interpretations.

Among the first to apply and use static corrections in Magnetotelluric exploration. Presented a paper on the techniques used at the 1984 Society of Exploration geophysics convention. The technique is now commonly used.

Environmental and Engineering Methods
Performed Transient Electromagnetic soundings, and other methods, to map groundwater contamination at several sites for the Uranium Mill Tailings (UMTRA) program, administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Successfully mapped regions where the groundwater had been contaminated by earlier industrial activities. These maps were then used to guide remediation.

Mapped the bedrock at Argonne National Laboratory using refraction seismic methods. Subsequent drill results showed the interpreted bedrock depths to be accurate. Depths of investigation were up to 130 feet.

At a U.S. Department of Energy UMTRA site in Western Colorado, a tailings cell had been designed and was ready for excavation when water in paleochannels on top of the bedrock was discovered at the cell site. Regulations forbid placing the cell where groundwater was present. Found a geophysical method that could locate these channels. Mapped the entire 350 acre site and provided the DOE with contour map of the bedrock showing the channels. This map provided a better location for the tailings cell which was then moved as suggested.


"Mapping Gas-Salt Water Contacts with Transient Electromagnetic Soundings", (with Pieter Hoekstra, Prof. A. A. Kaufman and Pierre Andrieux). Presented at the 1983 Society of Exploration Geophysicists Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada.

"The So Called Static Corrections in Magnetotelluric Methods", (with Pierre Andrieux). Presented at the 1984 Society of Exploration Geophysicists Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

"Geophysical Methods Used to Guide Hydrogeological Investigations at a Site near Grand Junction, Colorado, 1992, (with B. Martinek and D. Hammermeister), in Current Practices in Ground Water and Vadose Zone Investigations, ASTM STP118.

"A Transmission-Line Model for Electrical Logging through Casing, (with Prof. A. A. Kaufman), Geophysics, Vol 58, No 12 (December 1993).

"Influence of inductive effect on measurement of resistivity through casing", (with Prof. A. A. Kaufman, and A Karinsky.) Geophysics, Vol 61, No 1 (February 1996).

"Aeromagnetic Interpretation for the Maun Project, Botswana", (with T. B. Ngwisanyi ) Presented at the 1997 Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists Annual Meeting.

"Application of Airborne and Ground Geophysical Surveys in Elucidating the Geology and Water Resources Potential of the Lower Okavango Delta, Northwestern Botswana", (with T. B. Bakaya, A. Kumar, H. Kumar and T. H. Ngwisanyi). Presented at the 50th anniversary of the Geological Survey of Botswana, 1998


Patent in signal/noise improvement for Induced Polarization measurements. Submitted by Anaconda Minerals Company in 1989.
Patent in moisture sensing for irrigation purposes. Issued in 1996.

Summary Information

Dr. Ed Wightman

Countries Worked In
  • England, Ireland
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • USA
  • Nigeria
  • Botswana
  • Syria
  • Japan
  • English

Mining Exploration

12 years

Hydrocarbons (seismic & non seismic)

4 years

Encironmental / Groundwater / Engineering

12 years

Geophysical Methods Used
  • EM (airborne and ground)
  • Induced Polarization (including Spectral)
  • Gravity
  • Ground Penetrating Radar
  • Magnetics (airborne and ground)
  • Loop-Loop EM for mining and environmental/groundwater.
  • Resistivity (soundings, traverses, Numerous arrays)
  • Refraction seismic recording and processing/interpretation
  • Reflection seismic, processing
  • Transient Electromagnetics, soundings and traverses