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Regional-to-national scale electrical resistivity model development

The advent of national geophysical initiatives (e.g. EarthScope, AusLamp, SinoProbe) has started the race to develop regional- and national-scale geophysical models. In parallel, the need for such models is on the rise within the natural-hazard and resource sectors. This internship focuses on development of three-dimensional electrical resistivity models derived from magnetotelluric (MT) data.  

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Project Hypothesis or Objectives:

This internship is focused on development of three-dimensional electrical resistivity models and their application to two areas of high priority for the USGS and the Nation: 1) mapping Earth's crust within a ‘mineral-systems’ approach to resource assessment and (2) estimation of magnetic-storm induced geoelectric fields that are hazardous for electric power grids. This internship involves methodological aspects of model development as well as interpreting and incorporating such models for these applications. Investigations may include incorporating diverse data sets modeling and inversion, developing algorithms to support high-resolution yet continent-wide modeling effort, validating models against measured data and performing sensitivity analysis, and interpreting resistivity models in terms of the geologic/tectonic/metallogenic framework of the nation.

Duration: Up to 12 months

Internship Location: Lakewood, CO / Golden, CO

Keywords: Geology, Geologic Hazards/Volcanology, Geophysics, Modeling

Applicable NSF Division: GEO (Atmospheric, Earth Sciences, Ocean Sciences, Polar Programs)

Intern Type Preference: Any Type of Intern


The intern will work with a diverse team of USGS geophysicists, economic geologists and space scientists. Field work is not the primary emphasis of this internship, although there may be an opportunity for limited field work related to validation efforts. The initial part of this internship involves the assembly and integration of a number of diverse data sets followed by considerable geophysical modeling and inversion. The latter portion of the experience will be focused on interpretation and manuscript preparation.

Expected Outcome:

This research will further development of regional-to-national scale resistivity models. The intern will play a role in their development through a combination of methodological advances, validation exercises, and model interpretation. A peer-reviewed journal paper is the desired outcome of the internship.

Special skills/training Required:

Completion of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in geophysics or a related field. Experience in modeling and inverting geophysical data is desirable, but not required. Experience with data integration (e.g. ArcGIS) software is valuable, as is knowledge of tectonics, economic geology, and/or space weather.  Applicant should have programming experience, familiarity with numerical methods, and an ability to learn software packages independently.