Outline of geophysics

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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.
  • An interdisciplinary field – one that overlaps atmospheric sciences, geology, glaciology, hydrology, oceanography and physics.

Branches of geophysics

History of geophysics

General geophysics concepts


Heat flow


Atmospheric electricity

Electricity in Earth

Electromagnetic waves

Fluid dynamics


Geomagnetism subfields

Earth's magnetic field

Short-term changes
Long term behavior


Rock magnetism

Tectonic applications

Magnetic survey


Mineral physics


Closely allied 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



Geophysics lists

See also

External links