NIGK15016U Lithosphere Structure from Geophysical Data

Volume 2015/2016

MSc Programme in Geology-Geoscience


An advanced geophysics course covering lithosphere formation, secular evolution of lithosphere, tectonic processes in the lithosphere,
importance of the lithosphere for retention of natural resources, geophysical methods used for
imaging the lithosphere, methods for modelling processes related to the lithosphere.

  • Synthesis and analysis of the structure of the upper 300 km of the Earth globally, with focus on crustal and upper mantle heterogeneity in various tectonic settings.
  • Geophysical methods used for imaging the lithosphere; their advantages and uncertainties.
  • Lithosphere structure in continents and oceans as reflected in seismic and electrical parameters; thermal regime and lithosphere temperatures; rheology and deformation; gravity data and density; interpretations of lithosphere heterogeneities in terms of variations in composition, temperature, water content, and melting.
  • Processes related to the lithosphere formation and secular evolution from Archean till present; effects of mantle convection and plate tectonics on lithosphere modification.
  • Formation and retention of hydrocarbons and mineral resources during the lithosphere evolution.
  • Focus on problems which are subject of on-going big debates in geophysics.
Learning Outcome


  • An understanding of the current state-of-the-art geophysical methods for studying the lithosphere, including uncertainties, resolution, theoretical and practical limitations.
  • General knowledge of the structure of the lithosphere in different tectonic settings globally.
  • An overview of processes that form, modify and destroy the lithosphere with understanding of the links between the lithosphere structure and its evolution.
  • Practical importance of knowledge of the lithosphere structure and processes: natural hazards, retention of natural resources in different tectonic settings, etc.
  • Appreciation of the limitations of our present understanding of the lithosphere structure and evolution, including major on-going debates in geophysics.


  • Identification of key features of the lithosphere
  • Identification of methods for imagining the lithospheric structure
  • Understanding of current literature on the subject, including skills to critically summarize information, present this understanding, and defend your point of view.
  • Understanding of geodynamic process leading to formation of mineral and hydrocarbon resources in relation to the lithosphere structure and evolution.
  • Scientific reporting, including report writing in the style of a research proposal, and oral presentations.


Upon completion of the course, students should show:

  •  understanding of the globally heterogeneous structure of the lithosphere and its characteristics in different tectonic settings;
  • geophysical methods for studies of structure and processes in the lithosphere, including theoretical and practical limitations of the methods and their interpretations;
  • processes that form and modify the lithosphere, including formation and retention of mineral and hydrocarbon resources in the Earth.
  • The student should demonstrate this insight by scientific reporting on provided subjects.
BSc in Geology or equivalent.
Class teaching with lectures and active participation of students by means of student presentations, group discussions, exercises, report writing, etc. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.
Recommended requirements: BSc and MSc courses in Geophysics, including the two BSc courses “Introduction to Solid Earth Geophysics” and “Geophysics: Global Tectonics” or equivalent.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 171
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Written assignment
The written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assesment

Please see learning outcome.