The University of Southampton

SOES6037 Geodynamics and solid Earth geophysics

Module Overview

The course provides a comprehensive treatment of the geophysics of the Solid Earth.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To develop a comprehensive understanding of the geophysics of the Solid Earth. • To provide the skills necessary to model large scale geodynamic processes.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the quantitative aspects of plate tectonics.
  • Understand the geomagnetic field and the principles of palaeomagnetism as they apply to plate tectonics.
  • Ability to interpret first motion from seismograms and determine focal mechanisms.
  • Practical experience of the application of elastic plate bending theory and heat conduction equations.
  • Ability to interpret palaeomagnetic data in terms of large-scale plate motions.
  • Awareness of the research methods in use in various aspects of solid Earth geophysics.
  • Describe the limitations and simplifications of plate tectonic theory.
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the concept of the lithosphere.
  • Appreciate the principles of terrestrial heat flow.
  • Understand and know how to apply elastic plate bending theory.
  • Comprehend the characteristics of active plate boundaries.
  • Determine earthquake parameters from teleseismic data.
  • Understand the importance of seismology in determining the interior structure of the Earth.
  • Understand the constraints on features around the core-mantle boundary.


Topics include seismology, heat flow, geomagnetism and paleomagnetism, with a particular focus on the geometry, kinematics and dynamics of plate motion. Simple models of lithosphere rheology are developed and applied to case studies.

Special Features

This module may be available to students on both the final year of four-year undergraduate programmes, and to postgraduate taught master's programmes.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal lectures: will provide the underlying theory to kinematics, dynamics, seismology, crustal seismics and heatflow. An outline of each lecture is provided prior to start of a lecture or on website/in manual. Each lecture systematically covers the main concepts and topics. Where relevant, lecturers’ own research experience in the appropriate fields is brought into the lecturing sessions. References to the applicable chapter of course text and/or other relevant journal articles are provided as essential reading for each lecture. Practical classes: will exemplify the theory and develop your practical skills in the analysis of plate kinematic and geodynamic data. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study95
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Assessed Practicals 30%
Theory examination  (3 hours) 70%
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