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Unit information: Global Seismology in 2018/19

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Unit name Global Seismology
Unit code EASC30063
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Professor. Kendall
Open unit status Not open

Mandatory first and second year units of the BSc or MSci Geophysics programme



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This course covers basic concepts in seismic wave propagation and how this applies to the study of Earth structure.

The basic concepts include a derivation of the wave equation, ray theory, calculation of travel times and propagation distances, and the variation of amplitudes as waves propagate.

Next, a series of techniques are introduced to locate earthquakes, determine seismic wave speeds in the deep earth, estimate seismic anisotropy and to infer the types of movements that occur at plate boundaries.

Finally, we summarise what is known about the deep Earth from seismology, reviewing recent literature.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion you should be able to:

  • Understand mechanisms that cause seismic anisotropy
  • Use vector calculus to derive the wave equation and its solution for various wave types
  • Calculate the path of a seismic wave through any material.
  • Identify different seismic wave types in a seismogram.
  • Identify different tectonic environments from focal mechanisms.
  • Explain how seismology elucidates the structure of the Earth.
  • Summarize theories for the structure of the mantle and the core.

Teaching details

Lectures and practicals, including computer based exercises

Assessment Details

2 hour final exam (80%)

Coursework comprising 2 assessed practicals (10%)

Literature review, 2000 words (10%)

Reading and References


  • Shearer, P. M., 2009, "Introduction to seismology (second ed.)" (Cambridge)


  • Stein, S. and Wysession, M., 2003, "Introduction to seismology, earthquakes and earth structure" (Blackwells)