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Tectonics

Tectonics

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Published by Wanda Rozentryt
Marine geology
Marine geology

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Wanda Rozentryt on Sep 22, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/05/2011

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 1
T
ectonics
 
tudies of the structure of the earth began in Europe as part of a developing program of geology. Over time, we havediscarded multiple theories about tectonic processes, but these are presented to show the progress of geologicalunderstanding of the Earth. This progress has come with improvement in the tools that we use and in a better grounding of geologists in chemistry, physics and mathematics.The major physical properties of the earth can be measured with a high degree of precision. They include:
 
size – 6,378,099 meters equatorial radius
 
shape – oblate spheroid, almost spherical
 
mean density – 5.517 gm/cm
3
 
 
gravity – 9.8017 gm/sec
2
 
 
moment of inertia – 0.331 mr 
2
 
 
magnetic field – 8.09 x 10
25
emu dipole moment
 
geothermal flux – 1 x 10
28
erg/yr The difference between rock densities at the surface and the total mass of the Earth is strikingly different. The averagedensity of the Earth is 5.5 gm/cm
3
, but the surface rocks have densities of only 2.7 to 3.0 gm/cm
3
, so densities must behigher in the interior and the composition must change. This is confirmed by the moment of inertia since for a uniformEarth sphere the moment should be 0.4 mr 
2
, the difference from the measured value and the density difference betweencrustal rocks and total mass all indicate that densities increase inward and that the mass is concentrated toward the center of the Earth.
Techniques of Investigation
eismic surveys combined with data from oil wells and the deep sea drilling program have been a powerful tool for analysis.
Seismic Studies
eismology is the basic tool for investigation of the interior of the Earth. Interpretation of earthquake and man-madeshock wave passage through the Earth yields the most complete and accurate data about the structure and compositionof the rocks.The release of earthquake energy is transmitted as seismic waves which can be recorded on a seismometer. Transmissionof seismic energy through rocks is by homogeneous waves which travel equally in all directions. The main types of seismic waves are compressional waves (P-waves) in which the particle motion is along the direction of propagation,shear waves (S-waves) in which the particle motion is perpendicular to the direction of travel and primary waves or 
SSS
 
 2surface waves. Travel time of seismic energy is a function of the density of the rocks and their compressibility, so thatfrom a large number of measurements and travel time plots, the densities of rock strata can be determined.More than 10 major earthquakes occur each year with each releasing more than a thousand times the energy of theHiroshima atom bomb. Data from these Earthquakes are combined with geological information about surface rock outcrops and borehole data, laboratory experiments done on rocks at high pressures, and astronomical observations to giveus a basis for interpreting the structure andcomposition of the deep interior of the Earth.Two terms are used in discussing the location of an earthquake. The focus is the three-dimensional position of the source of theearthquake, and the epicenter is the position onthe surface above the focus.Earthquakes may be divided into groups basedon depth of occurrence:
 
shallow focus
above 70 km depthwithin the Earth
 
intermediate
70-300 km
 
deep focus
below 300 kmThe focus of deeper earthquakes is displaced toward continents and island arcs, away from trenches, marking major underthrust fault zones – subduction zone in the plate tectonics idiom. If we map the deep and intermediate focusearthquakes, the distribution is limited and most are in the Pacific
Seismic Surveys
eismic reflection technique is similar to the operation of a fathometer butthe energy is increased. When transmittedenergy strikes a plane of abrupt change indensity (layered bed boundaries or sediment-water interface), part of theenergy is reflected. Measurement of traveltime can give the depth to the interface,and the moving ship traces the bedcontacts as a fathometer can trace thewater-sea floor interface. An important parameter besides intensity is thefrequency of the sound source. In general,lower frequencies improve penetrationwith loss of bed definition. Reflection profiling is used to determine structure and thickness of the sediments.Seismic refraction surveys are similar to the study of earthquake seismic energy. The energy source is a powerfulexplosion and the resulting transmission of energy through the strata is tracked to determine rock densities.
Magnetic and Gravity Surveys
agnetism, gravity, and heat flow are properties of the Earth that can be measured at the surface. The magnetic fieldis dipolar, with an axis slightly offset from the axis of rotation. The field can be defined by its strength and directionat any point on the surface. Magnetic techniques measure the relative intensity of the field at sea with a proton precessionmagnetometer.
S
M
 
 3The magnetic field is related to Earth physics and interpretation of the magnetic history of the Earth has a profound bearing on interpretation of the history of the crust. The field is similar to one surrounding a two-poled bar magnetroughly aligned with the Earth's axis. The cause of the magnetic field has not been fully explained. In any theory, severalfeatures must be explained:
 
the field has two poles located near the geographic poles
 
it shows irregular variations in both position and polarity
 
these variations bear no relation to the crust and therefore must have their origin deep within the Earth.The most widely accepted view is that internal electric currents produce a magnetic field much like that formed around awire transmitting a current. A core rich in iron and nickel would be a good electrical conductor, and a fluid outer part of such a core would allow mechanical motion of electrical charges. According to the dynamo hypothesis, the Earth'smagnetic field results from core motions and rotation of the Earth affects both orientation and strength of the field.
Magnetic Reversals and Anomalies
hen molten rock solidifies and cools, iron bearing minerals become oriented to the magnetic field of the Earth andare permanent magnets reflecting the field at the time the rock formed. The orientation is imprinted with themagnetic pattern of the Earth's field as the rock cools below 578° C (Curie point). Interpretation of remnant magnetism inrocks that can be removed to the laboratory for measurements of direction and dip of the field are used to give long termmovements of the magnetic axis and changes in polarity. The rocks preserve a small residual field pointing in thedirection of the Earth's field at the time that they solidified. These changes are used in formulating the basic tectonictheories of continental movement. So long as the rock is not heated above the Curie Point, the magnetism remains and can be measured with laboratory instruments. If a carefully oriented sample is measured, we can determine the direction to themagnetic pole, and from the magnetic dip determine the latitude at the time the rock formed.The polarity of a magnetic field is the orientation of its positive and negative ends. Because the rocks record theorientation, we can construct a history of the Earth's field by studying magnetic orientations in rocks from many differentages and places. Reversals of the field can be measured by the positive-negative anomaly pattern from a magnetic survey.When a reversal occurs, the north magnetic pole becomes the south magnetic pole and vice versa. During the past 65million years, we have a record of about 130 reversals . These reversals give us another way to measure geological time,with a magnetic event time scale. The north orientation is labeled normal and a time of opposite orientation (southseeking) is called reverse.The reversals of polarity probably result from occasional instabilities of motion within the fluid outer core. During areversal, the magnetic poles migrate and the strength of the field varies erratically, and it probably weakens to near zerofor brief spells. The fossil record does not show an effect on terrestrial life.
W

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