A detailed citation analysis was conducted for fourteen major journals dealing with exploration geophysics, to judge their cost-effectiveness and impact. The analysis was for papers published in 1984, so that papers had approximately five years of visibility at the time the citation analysis was conducted. In addition, a study was performed for Geophysics for the years 1980 to 1988, to assess the influence of the length of time a paper was in the literature.The leading journal, in terms of number of citations, was the Journal of Geophysical Research, which received an average of 17.4 citations per paper, followed by the Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society (8.6) and Geophysics (5.4). Several journals average less than 1 citation per paper. For Geophysics, the average paper receives an extra 1.2 citations per year over the nine years studied. The percentage of nil citations decreases from 35 percent after one year, to 8 percent after 9 years. Four percent of papers receive 20 percent of all citations; these are the classic papers of exploration geophysics. Short notes, on average, receive half the number of citations as full papers. Self-citations, which account for approximately one in five citations, do not appear to significantly affect the importance or relevance of a paper.When examined in terms of cost-effectiveness, SEG publications rate very well. Geophysics and SEG Expanded Abstracts have the lowest cost per 1000 characters of all the journals studied. In terms of the number of citations per unit cost, Geophysics is more than twice as cost-effective than its nearest neighbor, the Journal of Geophysical Research. The results also confirm those of earlier studies, that commercial journals are not as cost-effective as those published by not-for-profit professional societies.