Geophysics is an interdisciplinary science that concerns the study of the physical nature, and natural processes, of Earth. It combines the fields of geology, physics and mathematics to solve problems and advance our understanding of Earth. Geophysics attempts to explain all geological properties and events, such as plate tectonics and water masses, by using physics and mathematics to outline logical and scientific reasoning behind geological concepts.
The Earth’s structure, and all its natural processes, are very erratic and affects all biological life on the planet. It is therefore paramount to understand the complex nature of our planet, which is most appropriately explained by the field of geophysics. Geophysics is a relatively modern scientific discipline, and technology is being developed at a rapid pace to improve current methods of studying geological events – which are still somewhat crude.
There are many geophysical concepts that are integral to the overall structure of contemporary geophysics, several of which are unsolved. Examples of such unsolved problems include: what the heat-balance of Earth is over the long-term, how frequent orbital changes are, and the level of abundance of radiogenic elements within the internal structure of the planet. Geophysicists are in the process of furthering the research of existing, known concepts to explain the unsolved. These concepts include the following: gravity, magnetism, and mineral physics.
Gravity is one of the most important properties of the planet; hence extensive research needs to be conducted to understand how gravity and gravitational pull affect the natural processes on Earth. Gravitation is responsible for certain rock formations and characteristics, such as their density and surface area. Additionally, the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon is responsible for the high tides and low tides of the sea.
The Earth’s property of magnetism is responsible for the magnetic field around the planet, protecting us from space radiation and solar winds. It also allows us to navigate Earth by using a compass. The Earth’s magnetic field also provides us with information about plate tectonics and seafloor expansion/spreading.
Mineral physics concerns the properties of mineral content of the Earth’s crust, and of all rock formations. These properties include the pressure they are subjected to, temperatures, elastic properties, and viscosity. The study of mineral physics is crucial when deciding whether water from caves or other natural formations can be consumed. The mineral content of water has to be within specific interval values, otherwise it is potentially harmful to drink. During our Physics tuition classes, we talked about the context of Singapore, in which Ocean Mineral Singapore has recently been awarded a contract to explore the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone for polymetallic nodules.