12.201/501  ESSENTIALS OF GEOPHYSICS Fall 2002


Instructor:           Prof. Bradford H. Hager          Office:          54-622

                                                                                                                                 Phone:    (O) 253-0126

                                                                                                                                 e-mail:     bhhager@mit.edu


TA:                               Shawn Lawrence                                 54-625         #3-1909            shawnl@chandler.mit.edu


This course is designed to be a survey of the various subdisciplines of geophysics (geodesy, geomagnetism, seismology, and geodynamics).  No prior background in Earth sciences is assumed, but students should be comfortable with vector calculus, classical mechanics, and potential field theory.


Class is scheduled to meet in room 54-317 at 9-10 MWF.


Grades for the class will be based on the scores from homework assignments (approx. 8 during the course of the term) (50%) and a final exam/quiz (50%).  No mid-term exam will be given.  You are encouraged to discuss problem sets to help each other on approaches to problems.  However, do not copy answers from each other or from solution sets.  (Unless indicated otherwise, homework is due one week after it is assigned.)


I will not use one single text book, but for further reading I recommend the text books listed below.  Rather detailed lecture notes, mainly written in previous years by Rob van der Hilst, Frederik Simons and Maria Zuber, will reside on the web:




Lecture notes:

             Chapter1.pdf    HarmonicAnalysis.pdf    SphericalHarmonics.pdf       Precession.pdf        Chapter2.pdf        Chapter3.pdf          Chapter4.pdf             Chapter5.pdf    BoundaryLayer.pdf


Matlab tutorial:

             mltut.pdf         mltut.ps


Problem Set 1. Due Friday, September 13:


Problem Set 2. Due Friday, September 20:

        hw2.pdf        hw2.1c.table

Problem Set 3. Due Friday, October 4:


Problem Set 4. Due Friday, October 11:

        HW4.pdf      HW4fig.jpg

Problem Set 5. Due Wednesday, October 23:


Problem Set 6. Due Wednesday, November 6:


Problem Set 7. Due Friday, Dec. 6 (extended to Dec. 11):

        ps07.pdf       hw7fig1.ps



Stacey "Physics of the Earth" (3rd edition, 1992) (Good text for potential field theory, gravity + geomagnetism, meteorites, and it has very useful appendices, good problems, not good for seismology; we will go through most of this book).

Sleep & Fujita Principles of Geophysics" (Blackwell Science, 586 pp, 1997) (New; Looks like a good text book for this course and I will cover most of the material presented herein; very useful source of literature for further reference; no problem sets).

Turcotte & Schubert "Geodynamics: Applications of continuum physics to geological problems" (Wiley & Sons, 450 pp., 1982) (A 'classic' reference text for gravity, thermal state of earth, heat flow, flexure, thermal convection; derives most equations)

Fowler "The solid Earth: Introduction to global geophysics" (Cambridge University Press, 472 pp., 1990) (Nice overview of the field, useful appendices, but often lacks fundamental math + physics)

Lay & Wallace "Modern Global Seismology" (very good introduction to modern seismology, big plus is the use of many examples from recent seismological research; theory not as rigorous as, for instance, Aki & Richards, but adequate for this class).

Anderson "Theory of the Earth" (very good reference book for chemistry and thermodynamics)

Merrill et al., “The magnetic field of the Earth”  (observational and theoretical aspects of Earth’s magnetic field.)

Lowrie “Fundamentals of Geophysics” (Good reference book to have on your shelf; Follows same lines as I do in class)