This course will introduce the fundamental continuum physics applied in understanding the working of plate tectonics, mantle convection and a variety of geological processes. The material of the course contents will present the mathematical concepts as less as possible unless they are essential to understand the physical principles. They will cover basic elasticity and fluid mechanics involved in the studies of the bending of elastic plates, the heat transfer through conduction at thermal boundary layers and mantle convection, and rheology that describes the relation between applied stress and strain (deformation) in the interior of the earth.
(1) Stress and Strain (Ch 3. T&S)
(2) Elasticity and plate flexure
stress and strain, bending or flexure of plates under applied moments and vertical loads, application to the earth’s lithosphere under the loads of island chains, at an ocean trench and sedimentary basins (Ch. 2, 3 of T&S).
Earth’s shape, compensation models and observed geoid anomalies (Ch. 5 of T&S)
(4) Heat transfer and thermal conduction
Fourier’s law of heat conduction, the earth’s surface heat flux, cooling of the oceanic lithosphere, solidification of dikes, thermal stress, subsidence of seafloor topography (Ch. 4 of T&S).
(5) Rock Rheology
deformation mechanism, diffusion creep, dislocation, mantle rheology (Ch. 7 of T&S)
(6) Fluid mechanics and mantle convection
Conservation of mass, momentum and energy, the stream function, 1-D channel flow, postglacial rebound, Stokes flow, thermal convection, boundary layer theory, linear stability analysis, the forces that drive mantle convection (Ch. 6 of T&S).