Physics:Outline of geophysics

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Short description: Topics in the physics of the Earth and its vicinity
Seismic velocities and boundaries in the interior of the Earth sampled by seismic waves.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to geophysics:

Geophysics – the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and composition; its dynamics and their surface expression in plate tectonics, the generation of magmas, volcanism and rock formation. However, modern geophysics organizations have a broader definition that includes the hydrological cycle including snow and ice; fluid dynamics of the oceans and the atmosphere; electricity and magnetism in the ionosphere and magnetosphere and solar-terrestrial relations; and analogous problems associated with the Moon and other planets.

Nature of geophysics

Geophysics can be described as all of the following:

  • An academic discipline – branch of knowledge that is taught and researched at the college or university level. Disciplines are defined (in part), and recognized by the academic journals in which research is published, and the learned societies and academic departments or faculties to which their practitioners belong.
  • A scientific field (a branch of science) – widely recognized category of specialized expertise within science, and typically embodies its own terminology and nomenclature. Such a field will usually be represented by one or more scientific journals, where peer-reviewed research is published. There are several geophysics-related scientific journals.
    • A natural science – one that seeks to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world using empirical and scientific methods.
      • A physical science – one that studies non-living systems.
    • A biological science – one that studies the effect of organisms on their physical environment.
  • An interdisciplinary field – one that overlaps atmospheric sciences, geology, glaciology, hydrology, oceanography and physics.

Branches of geophysics

History of geophysics

History of geophysics

General geophysics concepts


Gravity of Earth

Heat flow

Geothermal gradient


Atmospheric electricity

Atmospheric electricity

Electricity in Earth

Electromagnetic waves

Fluid dynamics

Geophysical fluid dynamics


Geomagnetism subfields

Earth's magnetic field

Main page: Earth:Earth's magnetic field
Short-term changes
Long term behavior


Rock magnetism

Rock magnetism

Tectonic applications

Magnetic survey


Mineral physics

Mineral physics



  • Earthquake – a motion that causes seismic waves.
  • Aftershock – follows larger earthquake.
  • Blind thrust – along a thrust fault that does not show on the Earth's surface.
  • Foreshock – precedes larger earthquake.
  • Harmonic tremor – long-duration, with distinct frequencies, associated with a volcanic eruption.
  • Interplate – at the boundary between two tectonic plates.
  • Intraplate – in the interior of a tectonic plate.
  • Megathrust – at subduction zones
  • Remotely triggered earthquakes – after main shock but outside the aftershock zone.
  • Slow – over a period of hours to months.
  • Submarine – under a body of water.
  • Supershear – rupture propagates faster than seismic shear wave velocity.
  • Tsunami – triggers a tsunami.
  • Seismic waves

Closely allied sciences

Atmospheric sciences

Atmospheric sciences

  • Aeronomy – the study of the physical structure and chemistry of the atmosphere.
  • Meteorology – the study of weather processes and forecasting.
  • Climatology – the study of weather conditions averaged over a period of time.




  • Geophysical engineering – the application of geophysics to the engineering design of facilities including roads, tunnels, and mines.

Water on the Earth

  • Glaciology – the study of ice and natural phenomena that involve ice, particularly glaciers.
  • Hydrology – the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth and other planets.
  • Physical oceanography – the study of physical conditions and physical processes within the ocean, especially the motions and physical properties of ocean waters.


Influential persons

List of geophysicists



  • Geophysics journals
  • Important publications in geophysics (geology)
  • Important publications in geophysics (physics)

Geophysics lists

See also

External links