EAS 3610: Introduction to Geophysics

Fall, 2015

Andrew Newman
ES&T 2254

Syllabus (PDF)
Select information from lectures


When: August 17 - December 11, 2015. Lecture: Mo.We.Fr. 9:05-9:55 am

Where: ES&T L1175 (lower-level 1)
Instructor Office Hours: Will be held in my office (see above) on Wednesdays 1 - 2 pm, and Thursdays from 1:30 - 2:30 pm, or by appointment.

Course Objectives:
This course is an introduction to methods used to visualize and understand the history, shape, mechanical structure, and dynamics of the solid-earth system. We will discuss how geophysical tools, including seismology, gravity, magnetism, heat flow, geochronology, and geodesy, are used to understand the age, whole-earth and near-surface structure, and to quantify the kinematics and dynamics of plate tectonics.
  • Physics 2212: Introduction to Physics I
  • EAS 2600: Earth Processes and Products
Required Text:
  • Fowler, C.M.R., The Solid Earth: An Introduction to Global Geophysics, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, 685 pp., 2005.
Class Communications:
You will occasionally receive class information via email to your prism account. Because this information may not be communicated in class, you should be sure to read messages identified as [EAS: Geophysics]. In emailing me for class, please add [EAS: Geophysics] to the subject line and identify yourself by name in the message since not all prism accounts clearly identify the email's author.

Course Outline:
This is an approximate outline of topics and timing and is subject to change throughout the semester.
Week Date Topic HW/Exams
1 8/17 - 21 Introduction:
- Why Geophysics?
- Math review
- Geophysical approximation
4-5 8/24 - 9/04 Plate Tectonics and Geodynamics
- The geometry and kinematics of plate motions
- Survey and characterization of plate motions
- Types and importance of plate boundaries
- Plate reconstructions and dating
- Paleomagnetism and polar wander
- Modern measurements of plate motions
- Mechanisms and consequences of plate tectonics
(no class 9/7) (Labor Day)
4-5 9/09 - 9/18 Seismology: Earth imaging and earthquake characterization
- Seismic waves
- Earthquake seismology
- Seismic imaging: reflection, refraction, and tomography
- The seismometer
6-7 9/21 - 9/30 Earth Gravity
- Mass distribution and relation to gravity
- Geopotential and the shape of the earth
- Gravity anomalies
- The gravimeter
- Isostasy
10/2 (Friday) Mid-term 1
8-9 10/5 - 10/16 Geochronology:
- Geologic time: from relative to absolute
- Principles of geochronology
- Modern methods
- Estimations of the Earth's Age
(no class 10/12) Fall break
10-1110/19 - 10/30 Internal Heat Engine:
- Sources of Earth's heat
- Mechanisms of heat transport
- Global heat flow and heat loss
- Tapping Earth heat: geothermal energy
12-1311/2 - 11/13 Deep Earth structure:
- Internal structure from seismology
- Planetary inertia and moment
- Mantle convection
- The Geodynamo
14 11/16 - 11/20 Lithospheric structure:
- Oceanic lithospheric formation
- Oceanic lithospheric destruction
- Growth of continents
- Formation of continental basins
15 11/23 (Monday) Mid-term 2
(no class 11/27) ( Thanksgiving Break)
16 11/30 - 12/4 Course Wrap-up: Emergent geophysics
Graduate Student lectures on Geophysical Research
17 12/11: 8 - 11 am (Friday) Final


Undergraduate section: Your grade is based on homework (30%) and 3 exams (70%).
Graduate section: Your grade is be based on homework (30%), 3 exams (60%), and an oral presentation (10%).
The Undergraduate and Graduate sections will be graded and curved independently.


Homework will be assigned about every 2 weeks and will be due one week from assignment. Graduate students will be assigned additional problems in each of the assigned problem sets. Late homework will not accepted without prior authorization. See the academic honesty section (below), for information on working together.


There will be three exams in total, 2 mid-terms administered during class time, and 1 final exam administered during finals week. The exams are equally weighted, with the lowest score being dropped. Thus, if you are satisfied with your course performance after the second mid-term exam, there will be no need for your to take the final. Keep in mind that while the first two exams will focus on material covered since the previous exam, the final exam will be comprehensive, and about 50% longer. Missed exams will receive a score of zero, and will be considered your dropped exam.


General: It is expected that all students are aware of their individual responsibilities under the Georgia Tech Academic Honor Code, which will be strictly adhered to in this class.

Problem Sets: Students are encouraged to work together on developing solutions to problem sets; however, the solutions/answers that are turned in must be the work of each individual. Include the name of individuals consulted for each problem that you sought aid in answering (including the instructors).

Exams: All information required for exams will be supplied. Reference to texts or other documents during exams is strictly forbidden. The use of electronic devices (e.g. cellular phones, computers etc.) other than non-programmable calculators during exams and quizzes is not allowed.

The complete text of the Academic Honor Code may be found at http://www.honor.gatech.edu/.

Geophysics Home | anewmangatech.edu | Updated: Mon Apr 13 16:35:31 EDT 2015