Geophysical methods can substantially benefit the process of site investigation. It is equally true however that their full potential goes unrealised too often. A more rigorous and open approach to geophysical site assessment and forward modelling (i.e. geophysical `desk study') would go a long way to improving this situation. It is illustrated how the uncertainties involved in designing a geophysical investigation - for example uncertainties in the size and nature of the target, the accuracy and repeatability of measurements, the presence of cultural noise and the limitations of interpretation - can in many cases be understood and managed more clearly using a statistical method such as the Monte Carlo method. Examples of the application of such a method are described in the context of geophysical applications in site investigation. This type of approach can play a crucial role in defining the parameters of the investigation to an agreed or acceptable level of confidence. The approach can also aid the geophysicist in the design of the investigation and it improves clients' appreciation of the processes involved in designing, carrying out and interpreting the geophysical element of site investigation.


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