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Department of Earth Sciences

What will students see at your exhibit?

Our exhibit introduces seismics as the prime technique for imaging the structure of the solid earth. Seismics is the basis of our knowledge of the earth's structure and of the dynamics of plate tectonics and crustal processes.  In addition it is the tool by which all oil is located and its extraction controlled - there is no other effective way of finding the structures that yield commercial quantities of oil, so effectively our entire economy depends on Seismics.  We will recap on the basic science that underlies seismics with some simple demonstrations that relate to physics within the normal school syllabus and progress to looking at an example of either scientific or commercial use of the technique (depending on how we feel at the time!).  By the end of the session, students should have a clear understanding of the basic steps used to produce a seismic reflection profile - a section through the earth's crust, and of the importance of seismics in the modern world.

What physics is used?

Seismics is simply the application of elastic ( i.e. sound ) waves to image the Earth using natural earthquakes or explosions as the sound source.  The basics are simple - the results are spectacular! We will follow the steps needed to get from the waves to the end picture. 

Why is it useful?

They give us our understanding of the structure of the Earth and dynamic processes like earthquakes and tsunamis, and give us access to natural resources like oil, coal and minerals from the ground - without seismics none of these would be possible!