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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Global Geophysics (EASC10037)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course introduces students to the three-dimensional structure of the Earth, some of the processes taking place in the Earth's interior, geophysical methods that can be used to investigate them, and some current controversies.

Topics covered include the following.
1. Potential theory.
2. Gravity anomalies and the geoid.
3. Core dynamics.
4. Core-mantle boundary.
5. Mantle rheology.
6. The deep interior of the Earth.
7. The Oceanic lithosphere.
8. The Continental lithosphere.
Course description Potential Theory
Laplace's equation in spherical polar and cylindrical co-ordinates; properties, examples and geometry of spherical harmonics; McCullagh's formula.
Gravity Anomalies and the Geoid
Theory and concepts of the reference potential, the reference surface and normal gravity; the anomalous potential, gravity anomalies and the geoid; temporal variability of J2; International Gravity Formulae.
Mantle Rheology and Structure
Deformation mechanisms; direct evidence; laboratory experiments; numerical experiments; mantle tomography.
Core-mantle Boundary
Thermal and compositional structure of D''; the post-perovskite phase; core-mantle coupling, length-of-day changes.
Core Dynamics
Navier-Stokes equation; non-dimensional numbers; torsional osciallations and waves in the core; core oscillations and nutations; inner core super-rotation.
Continental Lithosphere
Evidence from geophysical data (gravity, seismology, magnetics, heat flow, electromagnetics); receiver functions; thickness and seismic velocity structure; rheology.
Oceanic Lithosphere
Typical structure; mid-ocean ridges; transform faults; oceanic plateaux and large igneous provinces; passive continental margins; subduction zones and volcanic arcs; subducting plates.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Mathematics for Physics 4 (PHYS08038) OR Dynamics and Vector Calculus (PHYS08043) OR Mathematical Methods for Geophysicists (EASC09021)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. An integrated, detailed knowledge of Global Geophysics, especially the three-dimensional structure of the Earth and how it is determined. Part of the material is highly mathematical, whilst other parts are based on physical understanding.
  2. A detailed understanding of the topics covered in the course, some of which gained through the requisite reading and seminar presentations on recent, forefront developments.
  3. Ability to offer professional level insights into the subject.
  4. Mathematical competence in the relevant areas
  5. Ability to review critically and consolidate knowledge in the relevant areas
Reading List
Potential Theory in Gravity and Magnetic Applications, Blakely, R., C.U.P.
Theory of the Earth, Don Anderson, Blackwell Science Inc., 1989.
Introduction to Seismology, Peter M. Shearer, Cambridge University Press, 1999.
The Earth's Mantle, Ian Jackson (ed), Cambridge University Press, 2000.
The Earth¿s Core, J.A. Jacobs, Academic Press, 1987.
Geodynamics, Donald L. Turcotte and Gerald Schubert, Cambridge University Press, 2002 (2nd Edition)
The Solid Earth: An Introduction to Global Geophysics, C.M.R. Fowler, C.U.P.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00-10:50, Weeks 1-11.
Course organiserProf Kathy Whaler
Tel: (0131 6)50 4904
Course secretaryMiss Sarah Thomas
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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