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Introduction to Geophysics Exam 1 Review Sheet GLY3160 / PHY3160

This sheet provides a general outline of the topics covered on your upcoming exam. This is not an exhaustive list, but is
simply a general list of key points. In other words, most exam questions will be based on the topics listed here, but I
reserve the right to also include questions about topics from the textbook and items not specifically on this list.

I will never provide equations that can be easily figured out by dimensional analysis

e.g. = , = , = , = , etc...

I also will not provide any unit conversion factors (e.g. 1 in = 2.54 cm). You should know how to convert units from the
dimensional analysis lab. I also assume that everyone knows their metric abbreviations e.g.
m = 10-3, c = 10-2, k = 103, M = 106, G = 109, etc

Materials covered on this exam:

Textbook Chapters 1-5 (ending on page 50 or at section 5.4)
The lecture material on the earthquake cycle will appear on the next exam.
Lab material is designed to supplement lecture topics, so I would highly recommend studying your
previous lab assignments.

I will provide the following potentially useful equations on your exam:

+ 1 1 2 2
= = 3
= =
1 2

Chapter 1 :: What is geophysics? & Scientific Method Refresher

What are the two basic types of geophysics and what distinguishes them?
Know the scientific method (as a science major, you should already know this)
How does geophysical study differ from geologic? What are the advantages of each (in general)?
Differences between, hypothesis, theory, law

Chapter 2 :: Data Acquisition

Transects, traverses, profiles, grids

Data Reduction / Signal / Noise / Anomaly
What is stacking? How does it work and why does it work? What are the advantages and
disadvantages of stacking? In what situations would one use stacking?
Why it is often said that geophysical data is twice removed from geological information?
Be able to compare and contrast each of the following model types:
Forward model / Inverse model
Conceptual model
Analog model
Empirical model
Introduction to Geophysics Exam 1 Review Sheet GLY3160 / PHY3160

Analytical model
Numerical model
Know the general advantages / disadvantages of each model type
Why do geophysicists say that models are non-unique? What about interpretationsare they

Chapter 3 :: Data Processing

Know all of the following wave terms

Wavelength, amplitude, frequency, period
Be able to describe (qualitatively) Fourier analysis in detail.
What are harmonics? How does Fourier analysis use harmonics?
How can you match a signal exactly?
What are the advantages / disadvantages of Fourier analysis?
Digital filtering
Know how to do a moving window filter (I wont give the equationit shouldnt be hard to
High-pass / low-pass / band-pass filterswhat do they do?
When using digital filters, what must we be careful about to avoid aliasing or signal
What is aliasing? What causes it? What is the Nyquist wavelength and how does it apply to

Chapter 4 :: Global Seismology & Seismic Waves

What is an earthquake? What causes earthquakes?

Know fault types and relevant fault terms (hanging wall, right-lateral, etc)
What is stress? What is strain? Know the units of each. How are they similar? How are they
Know the basic types of stress/strain. What is pressure? In what type of material is pressure
commonly observed? (i.e. stresses are always equal in all directions)
Body waves vs surface waves
Compressional / Longitudinal waves
Shear / Transverse waves
P-waves, S-waves, L-waves, R-waves. Know them all and be able to describe their properties.
Geophone / Seismometer / Seismogram
Be able to describe how a seismogram works
Wavefronts and Rays. Know the differences and similarities. How are they related?
Epicentral angle?
How did seismologists determine that the Earth is spherically layered?
Introduction to Geophysics Exam 1 Review Sheet GLY3160 / PHY3160

How did seismologists determine that the Earth is non-uniform with depth?
Which seismic waves are fastest? Second fastest? Slowest?
Know the implications of the equations for Vs and Vp.
What are moduli? How many are needed to describe a material?
What is the Bulk modulus? Shear modulus?
Know Snells law and be able to calculate angles of refraction / incidence.
What is the critical angle? What happens if the critical angle is exceeded?
What is the ray parameter and why is it useful?
What is wave conversion? What caused it and when does it happen?
What are wave phases? Know the various seismic wave phases
What are the S-wave and P-wave shadow zones? What causes each?
What are teleseismic rays?
Attenuation. What is it and what causes it?
In general does seismic velocity increase or decrease with depth? Why? Where and why are there
What is the low velocity zone? Why is it significant?

Chapter 5 :: Seismotectonics

What is a stress drop? What happens during a stress drop?

What are asperities? How do asperities effect frictional properties of a fault?
What is stick-slip behavior? What causes it? If stick-slip behavior didnt happen, what would faults
Why cant traditional geologic fieldwork locate EQs?
What are S-P intervals and why are they useful?
How many seismographs are required to locate an epicenter and why?
What are some reasons for why triangulation does not give perfectly consistent locations?
How do seismologists determine hypocenter depth?
Know and understand strike, dip, and dip direction.
Know the anti-symmetric pattern of contraction/extension around a fault.
What are the: P-axis / C-axis / T-axis?
Be able to determine the following things from any focal mechanism solution
Strike & Dip of the nodal planes
Sense of slip on each nodal plane (normal, reverse, left-lateral, right-lateral, if oblique, be able
to describe what two senses of slip are mixed)
P-axis, T-axis
What is the double couple and why does it arise?
In what ways can we determine which nodal plane is the fault and which is the auxiliary plane?
I wont make you memorize the rake conventions, but you should be able to qualitatively describe
what rake is.
Introduction to Geophysics Exam 1 Review Sheet GLY3160 / PHY3160

To get focal mechanisms for non-vertical faults, we need to know the take-off angle. What is the
take-off angle, and how can seismologists possibly know this?
Why would certain seismometers receive waves of very low amplitude while others the same
distance from the epicenter receive much higher amplitude waves?

Lab Stuff

Lab 1 :: Dimensional Analysis

Be able to do dimensional analysis on any equationeven an equation that you are not familiar
with. You should be able to determine:
Is a given equation is dimensionally homogeneous?
What are the units of any term in a given equation (provided you are given the units of the
necessary terms)?
You should be able to convert units using dimensional analysis.

Lab 2 :: Data Filtering

You should be able to apply a digital filter or stacking to a small data set
You should be able to discuss the implications of various filters (see above bullets on chapter 2-3).

Lab 3 :: Seismology
See bullets above for chapter 4-5

Lab 4 :: Seismotectonics
See bullets above for chapter 4-5
You should be able to pick arrivals of P- and S-waves off of a seismogram.
The Richter nomogram and earthquake frequencies stuff will be on the next exam.
Be able to answer quantitative and qualitative questions about focal mechanisms.