Category Archives: How Geophysics Works

Horses, barns and earthquakes

Originally posted on The Grumpy Geophysicist:
Well, it appears that the Oklahoma finally bought into the connection of earthquakes to deep injection wells as the recent M5.6 earthquake led them to shut down injection wells in the vicinity of the…

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Oceans of magma, Moon formation and Earth’s ‘Year Zero’

That the Moon formed and Earth’s geochemistry was reset by our planet’s collision with another, now vanished world, has become pretty much part of the geoscientific canon. It was but one of some unimaginably catastrophic events that possibly characterised the…

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The Bees’ Sixth Sense

Originally posted on Bad Beekeeping Blog:
Bees sense the environment differently than humans. For example,  bees can see ultra-violet colour and distinguish it from violet and white, yet they see red as if it were black. They sense the orientation…

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Mantle Plumes May Be Real (or maybe not)

Geophysicist Tuzo Wilson had a creepy daydream. He imagined himself lying at the bottom of a creek, looking up at water flowing overhead. He blew bubbles. They rose, were caught by the current, and drifted away. He came back from … Continue reading

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Have Geophysicists Found Suleiman the Magnificent’s Heart?

What does a geophysicist do? Almost everything that involves looking beneath the soil. Geophysicists study everything from buried tombs to the boundary between the Earth’s inner and outer core. They perform a sort of fancy X-ray magic which can include … Continue reading

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Why Some ‘Quake Shakes Arrive Before Others

When a big earthquake quakes, different sorts of vibes spread through the Earth. Two of the main destructive seismic waves – the P and S – travel at different velocities.  P-waves (Primary or Pressure) will shake your dishes a few … Continue reading

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Newton and the Speed of Sound

Would you like to try Newton’s classic speed of sound experiment? Last month, at Trinity College in Cambridge, my 13-year-old stood at the colonnade where Newton measured the speed of sound. Just like Newton, Daniel clapped his hands once and … Continue reading

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Nepal’s Missing Volcanoes

Last month’s devastating earthquakes in Nepal were caused by the collision of the Indian subcontinent crashing into and (partly) under the bulk of Asia. The Himalayas are being created by the collision of tectonic plates. So, where are the volcanoes? … Continue reading

Posted in Geology, How Geophysics Works, Oceans, Plate Tectonics | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Harry Hess and the Sea’s Floor

What does a commander of a World War II assault transport ship do in his spare time? If the captain is Harry Hammond Hess, he would be gathering geophysical data enroute to Iwo Jima. Later, he would use the data … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Exploration, Geology, History, How Geophysics Works, Oceans, Plate Tectonics, The Book | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Solid to the Core

The Earth is like a chocolate-covered cherry. A bit bigger and harder to eat in one bite, but there are similarities. Like a cherry, the core is solid, but floats in a liquid. Next comes a thick layer of creamy … Continue reading

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