Geophysical surveying is one of the important functions of the SGS and finds its applications in many of its activities. It is used to locate small physical targets, such as pipelines (taplines) and mineral ore concentrations, as well as more subtle targets, such as clay alteration zones around mineral deposits or the boundaries and thicknesses of aquifers. Geophysics is also very much engaged in the study of large-scale phenomena, such as the movements of magma in the Earth’s crust, the drifting of the Arabian Peninsula as it moves away from Africa, and the origins and magnitudes of earthquakes that affect the region.

The main objective of exploration geophysics is to map out structures that are situated in areas of potential economic importance, such as those in areas with ore, groundwater, and petroleum deposits. In geologic mapping, geophysics is generally used to identify the rock types and characterize their contacts. In the fields of geohazards and the environment, geophysics is used to measure geological features, such as the magnitudes and epicenters of earthquakes and the levels of naturally occurring radiation. During the first seven decades of the last century, geophysical methods contributed significantly to geological surveying and to the exploration for hydrocarbons, minerals, and groundwater reservoirs in Saudi Arabia, led to the discoveries of several ore deposits of great economic significance in the Arabian Shield.