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A Student's Guide to Geophysical Equations

Covers a wide range of geophysical topics and can be used to accompany advanced lecture courses
Fundamental, background mathematics is explained in an introductory chapter, providing a helpful primer for less mathematically able students
Detailed, step-by-step derivations help students develop a real understanding of the physical meaning, without the need for intensive tutorial assistance

By: William Lowrie (Author)

281 pages, b/w illustrations, tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | May 2011 | #189621 | ISBN-13: 9780521183772
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £25.99 $32/€29 approx
Hardback | May 2011 | #190399 | ISBN-13: 9781107005846
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £48.99 $60/€55 approx

About this book

The advent of accessible student computing packages has meant that geophysics students can now easily manipulate datasets and gain first-hand modeling experience – essential in developing an intuitive understanding of the physics of the Earth. Yet to gain a more in-depth understanding of physical theory, and to develop new models and solutions, it is necessary to be able to derive the relevant equations from first principles. This compact, handy book fills a gap left by most modern geophysics textbooks, which generally do not have space to derive all of the important formulae, showing the intermediate steps. A Student's Guide to Geophysical Equations presents full derivations for the classical equations of gravitation, gravity, tides, earth rotation, heat, geomagnetism and foundational seismology, illustrated with simple schematic diagrams. It supports students through the successive steps and explains the logical sequence of a derivation – facilitating self-study and helping students to tackle homework exercises and prepare for exams.

"[...] a basic resource for anyone who needs to revisit the basic theory of classical geophysics [...] the fundamental geophysical equations are presented here in an informative and intuitive way, which makes this relatively inexpensive book an excellent investment for any geophysicist's library."
– Geological Magazine

"Figures are small, simple, and clear, and largely devoted to illustrating dimensions or coordinate systems relating to the equations under discussion [...] succeeds as a supplemental work to either a more general introductory textbook (most naturally Lowrie's own Fundamentals of Geophysics, which maintains continuity in mathematical notation) or as an introduction to several more advanced, subject-specific works [...] a worthy addition to the shelf (or eBook reader) of serious students of geophysics, or indeed faculty preparing lecture courses on related subjects."
– James Wookey, American Mineralogist



1. Mathematical background
2. Gravitation
3. Gravity
4. The tides
5. Earth's rotation
6. Earth's heat
7. Geomagnetism
8. Foundations of seismology

Appendix A. Magnetic poles, the dipole field, and current loops
Appendix B. Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism


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William Lowrie was born in Hawick, Scotland, and attended the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated in 1960 with first class honors in physics. He achieved a masters degree in geophysics at the University of Toronto and in 1967 a doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. After two years in the research laboratory of Gulf Oil Company he became a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University. In 1974 he was elected professor of geophysics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, where he taught and researched until retirement in 2004. His research in rock magnetism and paleomagnetism consisted of deducing the Earth's magnetic field in the geological past from the magnetizations of dated rocks. The results were applied to the solution of geologic-tectonic problems and to analysis of the polarity history of the geomagnetic field. Professor Lowrie has authored 135 scientific articles, and a second edition of his acclaimed 1997 textbook Fundamentals of Geophysics was published in 2007. He has been President of the European Union of Geosciences (1987-1989) and Section President and Council member of the American Geophysical Union (2000-2002). He is a Fellow of AGU and a Member of the Academia Europaea.

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