Geology Bites: Special Issue on Seismology

Geology Bites: Special Issue on Seismology

Geology Bites: Podcast conversations about geology with researchers making key contributions to our understanding of the Earth and the Solar System

Since you are reading an EGU Blog, you must already know how remarkable the field of geology is. The subject matter stretches the imagination – with its almost cosmological timescales, processes operating on scales from the atomic to the continental, and unimaginable extremes of temperature and pressure.

But in addition to the intrinsic fascination of the subject, what also makes it remarkable is the ingenuity of its practitioners. This podcast series aims to capture their key ideas and research projects in language that the non-specialist, curious layperson can understand. But while eliminating jargon, I have tried not to sacrifice the essence of the ideas, even when they are quite subtle or complex.

There are episodes on geophysics and seismology, tectonics, geodynamics, volcanism, palaeontology, paleoclimate, mineralogy, geomorphology, and planetary science.

Here are two episodes that might be of particular interest to readers of this seismology blog:

Barbara Romanowicz on Seeing Deep Into the Earth
How can we make seismic tomography sharper, and what does it reveal? What is ambient noise tomography?

Figure 1 | Caption: Shear wave velocity maps at four different depths. The cross-sections are keyed into their locations on the map at the depth where each of the subduction zones is most pronounced.
(Courtesy of Barbara Romanowicz, models from Kustowski et al. 2008 and Fukao and Obayashi 2013

Allen McNamara on the Deep Mantle Structure of the Earth
Working interactively with seismologists, mantle numerical modellers can predict features we should soon be able to resolve in seismic imagery that can distinguish between alternative theories for the nature and origin of large low-shear-velocity provinces and ultra-low-velocity zones.


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Animation 1 | A model of subducting crust that starts off at a thickness of 30 kilometres and becomes thinner with time, ending with a thickness of 6 kilometres. This reflects the idea that when the Earth was younger, a hotter mantle created more melt at spreading ridges, generating a thicker ocean crust. The model suggests that a compositional reservoir is formed but that it has very irregular boundaries (Courtesy of Allen McNamara).

The series currently has nearly 30 episodes, and I post new episodes every week or two – whenever they are ready.

In the pipeline right now are:

  • Marie Edmonds of Cambridge University on volcanic gas;
  • Dietmar Müller of the University of Sydney on his team’s billion-year reconstruction of plates and plate boundaries (now posted!);
  • Sarah Stewart of the University of California Davis on the synestia theory of the origin of the Moon; and
  • Gillian Foulger of the University of Durham on the mantle plume debate.

I hope you enjoy the series and do please send me comments and suggestions at

The podcast series is by Dr Oliver Strimpel, a keen amateur geologist, and a former astrophysicist and museum director.

Twitter: @OliverStrimpel, @geology_bites
Instagram: oliverstrimpel

This guest post was contributed by a scientist, student or a professional in the Earth, planetary or space sciences. The EGU blogs welcome guest contributions, so if you've got a great idea for a post or fancy trying your hand at science communication, please contact the blog editor or the EGU Communications Officer to pitch your idea.

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