NFYK15009U Earth Structure and Processes

Volume 2015/2016

MSc Programme in Physics
MSc Programme in Geology-Geoscience


The course will cover several aspects of the dynamics of the solid earth, concentrating on basic concepts and breaking problems down so that they can be solved analytically.  We will start with an introduction of plate tectonics as a framework for the problems that follow.  We will then introduce basic theory to analyse stress, strain, fluid flow, deformation in general, heat flow, gravity, and faulting.  Each of these theories will then be applied to simple problems, again emphasizing concepts.  More complex applications found in research articles will be discussed in class.

Learning Outcome

This course aims to provide the student with skills to

  • solve equations of elasticity and flexure, as applied to the solid Earth
  • analyse fluid mechanics processes in the Earth
  • solve simple rock rheological problems
  • quantitatively analyze simple fracture and faulting processes
  • describe and analyze flow in porous media
  • describe heat transfer processes in the Earth


The course will give the students

  • a basic understanding of the physical processes in the Earth's interior


The students will be able to:

  • explain fundamental physical theories as applied to processes in the Earth.
  • critically evaluate physical models for concrete geological models.

Turcotte and Schubert, Geodynamics. Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (April 7, 2014). Lecture notes on geodynamics.

Mathematical analysis, basic partial differential equations, linear algebra.
Lectures and computer exercises
Restricted elective for the specialisation "Geophysics"
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 32
  • Practical exercises
  • 16
  • Preparation
  • 68
  • Project work
  • 90
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes
3 projects (group or individual) [weighed by 12.5%, 12.5% and 25%] followed by 1 individual oral examination [weighed by 50%]
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
several internal examiners

Same as ordinary exam. The student can choose to re-use points from projects handed in during the course, or make new projects.

Criteria for exam assesment

see "skills"