Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology

Part of the series Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series pp 1-6

Date: Latest Version

Aeromagnetic Survey

  • Wendy ZhouAffiliated withDepartment of Geology & Geological engineering, Colorado School of Mines Email author 


An aeromagnetic survey (AMS) is an airborne geophysical survey performed using a magnetometer aboard or towed behind an aircraft. A magnetometer is an instrument used to measure the magnetic field. Aeromagnetic surveys are probably one of the most common types of airborne geophysical surveys. The applications of AMS in engineering geology include, but are not limited to, near-surface geological mapping, structural geology mapping, aiding three-dimensional (3D) geological subsurface model construction, groundwater study, environmental study, and geologic hazards assessment.

In an aeromagnetic survey, an airplane, flying at a low altitude, carrying a magnetic sensor, flies back and forth in a grid-like pattern over an area, recording disturbances in the magnetic field (Fig. 1). Height and grid line spacing determine the resolution of the data. Geologic processes often bring together rocks with slightly different magnetic properties, ...

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