Field observations and Instruments

Field Mapping

Surface and subsurface data gathering provides the backgrounds needed to produce detailed maps of our natural and cultural heritage.

Core logging
Description of deep borehole cores in search for fossils and mineral to date in the laboratory.

Subsurface Geophysics

Passive seismic

The seismic equipment comprises 20 three-component short period seismic sensors, each powered by sealed gel battery and connected to a 3-channel seismic recorder Data-Cube with built-in GPS and external antenna. The GPS is synchronized with the data cubes and records at a rate of 100 samples per minute.

Broadband Seismological Station

Located within the Physics Outdoor Research Facility of Nelson Mandela University, the instruments include Guralp Accelerometer and Seismometer, and Leica global navigation satellite system Antenna

Airborne Equipment

Vertical take-off and landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (IT180) and gyrocopter used for surveying

Geophysical data is improved by flying a gyrocopter, which does not require a formal runway or landing strip. Its in-flight carbon footprint is lower than that of traditional fixed wing for geo-survey, with unleaded petrol consumption of less than 21 litres per hours. Payload for the 180 horsepower gyrocopter is 220 kg.


Surface and groundwater are essential to planning future water needs for ecosystem, human health and food security. This is likely to emerge as one of the biggest challenges considering climate and population changes.

Groundwater sampling

The instruments used for the hydro-census include bailers, packers, discrete interval samplers (DIS). Precise sampling practices require sampling bottles to be cleaned with an alcohol solution. A Hanna multiparameter probe is used to analyse the samples temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen (DO) and electrical conductivity. Using a TLC meter it is possible to identify the freshwater inflow into a well and test for deep and shallow aquifer connectivity.

Water Chemistry, Methane Gas, and Carbon Dioxide Measurements

Greenhouse gas emissions

The PICARRO, mounted into the back of a 4WD vehicle, operates on two deep cycle batteries charted via solar panel installed on the roof of the vehicle. Its size and robustness make it easy to transport to the field and achieve optimal results. The Picarro G2201-i Cavity Ring-Down Spectrometer (CRDS) analyses CH4 and CO2 concentrations as well as stable isotope ratios of the carbon of both gasses. The CRDS technology enables an effective measurement path length of up to 30 km in a compact cavity, which results in exceptional precision and sensitivity with a small footprint. It measures simultaneous CO2, CH4 and H2O down to PPM.