Earth physics

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
To provide the students with a basic knowledge of the physical phenomena occurring on the Earth and on the theoretical and experimental methods to study these processes. A specific focus will be on the improvement of students' skills on the physical investigation of Earth transport phenomena, also with reference to applied and environmental issues.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will be able
1. to read and understand scientific papers and books which the themes treated during the lectures;
2. to read and evaluate technical reports for practical applications of geophysical techniques;
3. to deal with problems related to process phenomena (mass, energy, momentum, etc.) with a critical view.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
If required, on the basis of the restrictions intorduced to limit the pandemic spread, the Lectures will be given in synchronous telematic method, with the Zoom platform and will be recorded so that the video will be available through the MOODLE site of the course unit which is accesible from the web page

The syllabus and the study material will not be subject to any variation.

The oral exam will be held in telematic way, through the MS Teams platform, which can be accessed by following the instructions available on the web portal of the University.
Course syllabus
Introduction to Earth Sciences. Materials of geophysical interest (minerals, rocks, water, air); continuum approach to the study of geophysical processes; space & time scales.
Phenomenological laws for transport phenomena in geophysics. Electrical conduction (Ohm's law); groundwater flow (Darcy's law for fluid flow in porous media, Hubbert potential); solute transport (Fick's law); Energy transport (Fourier's law); transport of linear momentum (Elasticity, Hooke's law; viscous fluids, Newton's law; stress, strain and strain rate tensors).
Elastic field. Continuity equation (lagrangian and eulerian approach to continuum media); equation of motion of an elastic medium and elastic wave equations; body (P & S) and surface waves; energy of seismic waves (density and intensity of seismic wave energy); reflection and refraction of seismic waves; elementary paths of seismic waves (reflected and refracted waves from an horizontal discontinuity); electromagnetic geophone; elements of seismic prospecting (instruments and field procedures; refraction prospecting; reflection prospecting); elements of seismology.
Geoelectrical field. Self potentials; elementary theory of stationary electrical currents (Electrical field for a pointwise electrode on the surface of a homogeneous and isotropic half space; conditions on the interface between two different media); electrical quadripole and apparent resistivity; procedures of field data acquisition and of data inversion.
Hydraulic field (groundwater flow). Three-dimensional flow in a variably saturated deformable medium; three-dimensional flow in a saturated medium; two-dimensional flow in confined and phreatic aquifers; flow in the vadose zone; sinks and sources and boundary conditions.
Solute transport. Advective-diffusive-dispersive transport equation with reactions; elementary solutions.
Geothermal field. Thermal properties of the Earth; heat equation; simple models of temperature trend in the Earth's mantle and crust; propagation of the surface fluctuations of temperature; instantaneous cooling of a half-space.
The Earth's gravity field. Gravitational and centrifugal acceleration; variation of gravity acceleration with the latitude; geopotential and geoid; measurement instruments and field procedures; measurement reductions (free-air reduction, Bouguer's reduction, topographic reduction); Bouguer's anomaly (definition and physical significance); elements of isostasy.
The Earth's magnetic field. Principal properties of the Earth's magnetic field; primary (geomagnetic) and secondary field; temporal variations; magnetic properties of rocks; magnetic anomaly; measurement of the Earth's magnetic field (proton precession magnetometers); elements of propagation of electromagnetic fields in the Earth.
For every considered field, examples of practical applications will be given.
Prerequisites for admission
Good knowledge of classical physics.
Teaching methods
Standard lectures. Fast quizzes (multiple-choice questions) will be proposed during lectures, whereas autonomous activities will be proposed as homework between successive lectures; these activities will be performed with telematic synchronous and/or asynchronous instruments through the Moodle platform.
Autonomous activity by students, through the preparation of a written report about the in-depth study of a topic chosen by the student among a list proposed by the teacher.
Teaching Resources
Lecture notes downloadable from the Moodle site of the course unit, accessible through the link

Suggested additional readings
Turcotte, D.L. & Schubert, G., 2002, Geodynamics applications of continuum physics to geological problems Second Edition Cambridge University Press.
Lowrie, W., 2007, Fundamentals of Geophysics, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press
Telford, W.M., Geldart, L.P., & Sherriff, R.E., 1990, Applied Geophysics, 2nd Ed, Cambridge University Press.
Bear, J., 1979, Hydraulics of groundwater, McGraw-Hill.
Marsily, G. de, 1986, Quantitative Hydrogeology - Groundwater hydrology for engineers, Academic Press.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Preparation of a written report related to the in depth study of one of the topics taught during the lectures.
Oral exam (discussion of the report and questions on the topics of the lectures) to verify the acquisition of knowledge about the topics taught during lectures.
Results of quizzes (multiple-choice questions) and homework (open-ended questions and exercises) performed during the semester will provide an additional, integrative assessment.

For the written report the assessment criteria are the ability to reinforce the knowledge of the assigned topic by reading specialistic references, the ability to describe the topic and the skill in the use of the specialistic lexicon.
For the oral exam, the assessment criteria are the ability to organize the presentation of knowledge and the mastery of the results illustrated in the report and of the topics taught during the lectures.

The final evaluation is expressed with a mark in thirtieth and accounts for the assessment of the written report and of the oral exam; the assessment of the results of quizzes and homework can give an incremental, additional bonus for the final mark.
Lessons: 42 hours
Professor: Giudici Mauro
Educational website(s)
By phone or mail appointment
via Cicognara 7