The Piper Navajo aircraft, used for the GeoCentre airborne geophysical survey, preparing for takeoff at the Aubigny-sur-Nère airfield with its three sensors for magnetic field measurements (France, 2008). © BRGM - José Perrin

Airborne geophysics

Airborne geophysics uses non-invasive imaging technologies to produce homogeneous 2D and 3D representations of the surface and subsurface, even for zones where access is difficult. The resulting imagery is homogeneous, even for zones where access is difficult.

Acquiring data on zones where access is difficult

Airborne geophysics can deploy several data acquisition methods rapidly and simultaneously, including in zones that are difficult to access (forests, mountains) or densely covered by economic infrastructure.

Measurements are made with geophysics instruments on board aircraft or suspended from helicopters. The resulting 2D and 3D images of the subterranean geological environment are homogeneous, continuous and accurately located by GPS.

Input for the French Geological Reference Platform

Airborne geophysical surveys provide essential input for the French Geological Reference Platform (RGF), a BRGM programme designed to build three-dimensional knowledge on subsoils in France.

They supply valuable information to support decisions on rational resource management and subsoil planning.

Coverage of France by region

In the late 1990s, the BRGM launched a new airborne geophysical data acquisition campaign, aimed at exhaustive coverage of all French regions.

The most recent high-resolution surveys cover French Guiana (1996), the Armorican Massif (1998), the Centre Region (2008-2009), the western Paris Basin (2009-2010), Mayotte (2010), Burgundy (2011), Martinique et Guadeloupe (2013) and Reunion (2014). Surveys are generally co-financed with local partners and/or European funds.

Heliborne magnetism measurements above the island of Mayotte, under the GeoMayotte project. © BRGM


More about recent and ongoing surveys

Answers to common questions about airborne geophysics



José Perrin
Direction des Géoressources

3, avenue Claude-Guillemin
45060 Orléans Cedex 2
Tel.: 33 (0)2 38 64 31 09
Fax: 33 (0)2 38 64 38 92

Reach the contact form

BRGM - 3 avenue Claude-Guillemin - BP 36009 45060 Orléans Cedex 2 - France Tel.: +33 (0)2 38 64 34 34