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
gravity – 9.8017 gm/sec
moment of inertia – 0.331 mr
magnetic field – 8.09 x 10
emu dipole moment
geothermal flux – 1 x 10
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
, but the surface rocks have densities of only 2.7 to 3.0 gm/cm
, 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
, 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.
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