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The Center for Geophysical Investigation of the Shallow Subsurface (CGISS) at Boise State University (BSU) was formally established in July 1991 by the Higher Education Research Council (HERC) of the Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE) with a $1.05 million grant to Dr. J. R. Pelton of the BSU geophysics faculty. The general goal of CGISS is to focus undergraduate and graduate geoscientific research on the structure, processes, and properties of the uppermost part of the Earth’s crust. Research carried out by CGISS requires measurements made with digital instrumentation deployed at the Earth’s solid surface, within the oceans, or inside boreholes, and depends on theoretical results from physics and chemistry, mathematical methods implemented on powerful computers, and a wide variety of laboratory analyses to quantitatively interpret those measurements. The results are relevant to fundamental geoscientific questions and to diverse problems associated with natural resources, natural hazards, and environmental quality.

Geophysical research on the shallow subsurface is not a mature field of study and there are many outstanding problems that tend to be interdisciplinary in nature. In order to be successful with a relatively small research group, CGISS has narrowed its scope and configured its staff to emphasize long-term efforts on the investigation of the properties and processes associated with near-surface sedimentary materials. More specifically, CGISS has assembled a research staff with the skills and experience needed to focus on the following problems:

  1. Developing new and innovative methods for modeling, imaging, and inversion of geophysical data including seismic, ground-penetrating radar, low-frequency electromagnetic, and potential field methods.
  2. Development of methods for measuring the three-dimensional distribution of permeability in shallow aquifer systems using both hydrologic and geophysical measurements.
  3. Innovative application of geophysical and hydrological methods to practical problems associated with earthquake hazards, landslides, and groundwater resources.
  4. Determination of in situ mechanical properties of soils using borehole seismology and investigation of the relationship of in situ measurements to laboratory measurements.
  5. Development and application of innovative geophysical methods to measure the physical properties of the earth’s cold regions (cryosphere) to include snow, permafrost, and glaciers.