About Us

Our rich Journey

Take a quick tour of HGI’s history (below) and see how we have grown over the years, leading the industry in providing geophysical services and developing exciting technologies.

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Our staff’s determination and dedication give HGI the ability to perform outstanding service, generate value, and maintain flexibility for our customers.


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HGI’s rich Journey

HGI was founded with the simple motto “If it’s in the ground and needs to be found, that’s our job!”,

1991 – Foundational Beginnings: Birth of HGI

In 1991 Dr. Jim Fink founded hydroGEOPHYSICS, and in 1993 the company was incorporated, becoming hydroGEOPHYSICS Inc, also known as HGI. For more than 15 years, Jim served as Chief Scientist for HGI. During his tenure, Dr. Fink was responsible for the development of several key HGI technologies, such as the High-Resolution ResistivityTM (HRRTM) method, the Residual Potential Mapping (RPM) method, and the patented Quantitative Electrical Leak Detection methodology in use at the Hanford Nuclear Site, in Washington State.

1997 – Academic Connection: The Expansion of HGI

In 1997, Jim reached out to the University of Arizona’s geophysics department for student assistance on short-term projects. He temporarily hired seniors Mark Levitt and Rob McGill. After graduating in 1998, they expressed interest in expanding Jim’s solo consulting firm, and he agreed to make them co-owners of HGI if they committed for at least two years. This marked the start of HGI’s evolution into an innovative geophysical service provider. In 2001, Chris Baldyga joined as the fourth employee and eventually became HGI’s fourth original owner.

2000 – HGI’s Pioneering Role in Nuclear Waste Management

In 2000, HGI presented at a workshop at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) on the Hanford nuclear site. This led to HGI’s participation in the Vadose Zone Transport Field Studies and Tank Leak Detection Demonstrations at Hanford. The goal was to assess characterization and monitoring technologies for detecting historic nuclear waste leaks and monitoring existing underground nuclear waste storage tanks. The geophysical technology had to utilize existing infrastructure like steel-cased wells. HGI’s direct current electrical resistivity methods, such as Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) and High-Resolution Resistivity (HRR), proved best for monitoring. Testing at a scaled-down mock tank facility demonstrated HRR’s accuracy and time-series-based monitoring, capable of highly accurate leak detection.

2004 – Geophysical Breakthrough: Subsurface Tank Monitoring

HGI created a custom solution to the Hanford site’s needs by developing a geophysical subsurface tank monitoring system. In 2004, HGI deployed the first HRR Leak Detection and Monitoring system on the S-102 tank. The design features an electrical resistivity data acquisition system (DAS) in a trailer near the tank farm, connected to electrodes and infrastructure surrounding the underground waste tank. HGI later built a second trailer-based system for the Hanford site. These trailer-based monitoring systems are still on site and utilized whenever waste is retrieved from buried tanks.

2005 – Revolutionizing Liner Leak Location

Early in HGI’s evolution, geosynthetic liner leak location was an original service offering for large industrial sites. However, in 2005 HGI developed an advanced proprietary technology unique to the geosynthetic liner industry. The technology continues to be a revolutionary change positioning HGI at the forefront of this niche market. Our technology enhances the accuracy and efficiency of the liner leak detection process, thus providing clients with more reliable and cost-effective results. Our commitment to innovation elevates us above the competition, reinforcing our standing as the go-to service provider for industrial-scale geosynthetic liner leak location.

2006 – Innovative Fluid Monitoring: Enhancing Oil Recovery

In 2006 HGI and Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center (RMOTC) tested HGI’s Resistivity technology for monitoring fluid movement during enhanced oil recovery (EOR) processes in the Naval Petroleum Reserve. HGI built a third trailer-based electrical resistivity system to detect contrasts in electrical properties between the host formation and injected fluid, using existing metallic infrastructure such as oilfield well casings. The project demonstrated electrical resistivity applicability in deep subsurface settings (500 feet) for enhanced oil recovery. HGI’s system successfully monitored changes in electrical properties during the test, providing insights into the test’s performance and hydraulic reservoir characteristics. This system would mark the beginning of HGI injection monitoring technology.

2007 – Mineral Extraction: HGI’s Pioneering Approach

A year later, HGI applied its experience from RMOTC to monitor targeted injections into a mining heap leach pad. A first-of-its-kind two-phase study used electrical resistivity to identify subsurface dry zones in a heap and monitor multiple targeted injections. The technology aimed to enhance mineral extraction by injecting barren cyanide at specific depths where minerals remained un-leached. The heap’s directional hydraulic conductivity, influenced by pad construction and particle size variability, determined the process’s effectiveness. Fine-grained material could form confining layers, causing pooling, shading, and reduced leached ore volume. Electrical resistivity geophysics helped identify dry zones, assumed to contain minimally leached ore-grade material and monitored solution migration during injection to ensure the complete saturation of the targeted area.

2008 – Navigating Canal Geotech: Mapping the Panama Canal

In 2008 HGI used water-borne resistivity to map the subaqueous rock of the Panama Canal for an expansion project to accommodate Post-Panamax vessels by dredging the bottom and widening the sides. The geophysical project assessed the geotechnical properties of the Panama Canal using a water-borne streaming electrical resistivity survey calibrated to existing borehole data. Strength parameters of rock hardness were mapped by correlating resistivity to hardness values from borehole records. The method proved useful for delineating boundaries of differing rock types and strength properties, helping evaluate the ease of dredging and material removal within the Canal.

2010 – Geotection Trailer: The Future of Hydrogeological Monitoring

In 2010, HGI embarked on a 4th generation, trailer-based resistivity system to more accurately and rapidly monitor hydrogeological events in the subsurface. Primarily, these events focus on high-pressure injections such as the secondary recovery of minerals of copper and gold in leach pads. However, we have also used it to monitor environmental remediation, in-situ copper recovery, and natural infiltration. The advantage of Geotection is the size of the system, which is capable of measuring voltage on 180 channels simultaneously, thus creating a complete set of measurements in under 25 minutes. The system is still widely used today.

2012 – Shaking Up Geophysics: Expanded Seismic Services

During the summer of 2012, HGI dramatically expanded its seismic capabilities by incorporating reflection, refraction, and multi-channel analysis of surface waves (MASW) seismic methodologies into our service portfolio. This expansion improved our ability to produce comprehensive geophysical data for a wide array of customers and projects. Through continuous innovation, HGI stays on top of cutting-edge geophysics, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to delivering superior solutions to our global clients.

2013 – Pioneering Copper Recovery: Carlota Copper

In 2013 HGI expanded its injection technology in a pilot-scale recovery experiment on Carlota Copper Mine’s Phase I heap leach pad. The injection project involved applying a solution to deeper sections via four injection wells. The project succeeded by measuring key metallurgical parameters locally to the injection and by meeting performance objectives, such as 400 gpm flow rates and 0.8 gpL grades. Multi-month injections produced copper grades over 1.5 gpL, with an estimated 450,000 lbs of copper extracted from November 7, 2013, to February 10, 2014. This experiment began with multiple injection projects at Carlota spanning the next ten years.

2017 – Redefining Dam Assessment: HGI’s Innovative Approach

Early in HGI’s history, a commitment to creative innovation led to new geophysical methods for solving challenging problems in various industries. In 2017, HGI used time-lapse electrical resistivity to help a client understand seepage through a dam. This non-invasive technique offers high-resolution, continuous information resembling an MRI cross-section and highlights potential issues related to erosion or seepage. From this experience, HGI developed Dam Assessment tools to assist dam, levee, and tailings dam owners in understanding internal integrity using geophysical technologies. HGI employs electrical resistivity, seismic, and streaming potential (SP) methods to create an internal picture of complex structures, providing data-rich information for solution-ready, actionable results.

2019 – Aerial Mapping of Copper Leach Pads

Mapping the electrical properties of heap leach pads has proven invaluable for understanding fluid movement through mined ore. Following years of experience, we have shown through the ERT method that electrically conductive material may indicate wet ore and electrically resistive material dry. However, using ERT to image heaps with dimensions on the scale of miles is difficult. Electromagnetics (EM) measures the conductivity of heap piles inductively, and EM tools can be suspended from airborne platforms to collect data rapidly. In 2019, HGI was the first to map copper leach pads to depths of over 800 feet. The data provided excellent details of the internal structure of solution pockets and compacted material.

2022 – Geophysical Support for Wind Energy

In 2022 and 2023, HGI continued its commitment to creative innovation by conducting geophysical surveys to detect voids for wind farm projects in Texas and Indiana. The first site involved 60 turbines along 18 miles of access roads, and the second site had 42 turbines along over 27 miles of access roads. HGI employed a combination of electromagnetic and electrical resistivity surveys to investigate potential voids and cavities along the crane paths. The project aimed to use both methods to characterize the subsurface at proposed wind turbine sites and identify potential voids and cavities. The expected response in the electrical resistivity method's model results depends on the void type. Typically, air-filled voids appear more resistive than the background geology, while water-filled voids appear more conductive compared to the background geology.

2023 – HGI at 30: A Journey of Innovation and Dedication

In 2023, we proudly celebrate 30 years of dedicated service in the geophysical industry. Since 1993, we’ve remained at the forefront of technological innovation, pioneering state-of-the-art solutions to complex geological challenges. Our journey has been shaped by three decades of knowledge, experience, and unwavering commitment to the many industries that benefit from our services.

We’re grateful for the trust and partnership of our clients who have journeyed with us. Their challenges have pushed us to broaden our horizons and constantly enhance our methodologies. In these 30 years, we have sought to deliver comprehensive geophysical services, from survey planning and acquisition, through processing and interpretation, with a commitment to quality and safety. We remain committed to delivering the highest quality service, the latest geophysical innovations, and the exceptional performance standards we are known for.