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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Mathematical Methods for Geophysicists (EASC09021)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course takes the mathematics which students have learned in the pre-honours Mathematics for Physics courses and applies it to the study of the Earth, extending mathematical skills and exploring the insights that can be developed through quantitative modelling of geological processes. Many examples and applications are drawn from the book "Geodynamics" by Turcotte & Schubert.
Topics covered include the following.
1) Vectors and their use in describing positions and directions on the Earth's surface.
2) Spherical geometry and plate tectonics.
3) Potential fields and the gradient and divergence operators applied to gravity and heat flow.
4) Ordinary differential equations applied to heat flow in the Earth.
5) The diffusion equation applied to time-dependent heat flow into the Earth.
6) Teaching is by means of a series of "workshops", in which short lectures on the underlying mathematical techniques and their geological and geophysical applications are mixed with example classes.
Course description Week 1
Vectors: addition and multiplication.

Week 2
No classes

Week 3
Great Circle arcs and spherical geometry.

Week 4
Vector Fields.

Week 5
Applications of gradient. Divergence.

Week 6
Differential Equations (Ordinary and Partial) Week 7. Models of steady heat flow.

Week 7
Models of steady heat flow.

Week 8
Time dependent heat flow. Separation of variables

Week 9.
Penetration of periodic temperature variations into the Earth

Week 10.
The instantaneous heating or cooling of a half-space

Week 11.
Revision or catch-up time if needed.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Earth Dynamics (EASC08001) AND Introduction to Geophysics (EASC08008)) OR Earth Science Fundamentals for Geophysicists (EASC08022) AND ( Algebra and Calculus (PHYS08041) OR Linear Algebra and Several Variable Calculus (PHYS08042)) AND Physics of the Earth (EASC08016)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesMathematics to the level of vector calculus and simple differential equations.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 66 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 60%, Course Work: 40 %, Practical Exam: 0%.

The course work will consist of two sets of mathematical problems; each set is worth 20% of the total mark. These are to be handed in at the times noted below. Answers may be hand-written.

The examination will take the same form as the previous year; the past paper will be made available. The time for the examination will be 2 hours as in the previous year.

Friday of Week 7 (6 November 2015) at 4pm, Friday of week 10 (Friday 27 November) at 4pm
Feedback Verbal feedback will be provided by the lecturer and the postgraduate tutor during the tutorial classes.

The two coursework assessments will be marked and are designed to provide practice in solving the same type of problem which you are likely to find in the exam.

Early in the course a further small assignment will be set and marked for formative purposes only.

There are un-assessed homework problems every week; the answers to these will be provided once you have had time to try the problems for yourself.

Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Mathematical Methods for Geophysicists2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have a broad and integrated understanding of how to apply their mathematical skills in an Earth science context and what insights can be gained from the quantitative modelling of geological processes.
  2. Have a critical understanding of vectors and how they are implemented in this field.
  3. Be able to solve a variety of ordinary and partial differential equations and to apply them in a variety of Earth science contexts.
Reading List
A guided tour of mathematical methods for the physical sciences, Roel Sneider. Cambridge University Press, 978-0521542616
Geodynamics, Turcotte, D. L. and Schubert, G 0-521-66624-4
Geophysical Theory, Menke, W. and Abbott, D. 978-0-231-06792-8
Mechanics in the Earth and Environmental Sciences, Middleton, G. V. and Wilcock, P. R, 0-521-44669-4
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Hugh Pumphrey
Tel: (0131 6)50 6026
Course secretaryMs Casey Hollway
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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