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Physics of the Earth and planetary interiors


Unit administrator: Stéphane Labrosse
Teachers: Benoît TauzinStéphane Labrosse Chloé Michaut, Stéphanie Durand, Laëtitia Lebec
Class type: 60hrs of courses and practical classes
Language: english or french (depending on students enlisted)
Prerequisite (batchelor):



Benoît Tauzin, Stéphanie Durand

  1. Introduction on earthquakes, seismic waves and seismometers
  2. Stress and strain
  3. Seismic waves
  4. Snell-Descartes laws
  5. Reflection and transmission coefficients for plane waves
  6. Seismic rays in a spherical Earth
  7. Surface waves and normal modes

Expected: proficiency in the basics of seismology.

  • understanding of the link between seismic wave propagation and seismograms.
  • being able to relate the laws of wave propagation to hodochrones
  • knowing characteristics of body waves, guided waves and standing waves



Stéphane Labrosse, Chloé Michaut, Laëtitia Lebec

Conductive heat transfer

  1. Primer on the conductive heat transfer equation
  2. Steady state solutions and simplistic models of the thermal structure of the Earth
  3. Infinite half-space cooling and application to the structure of the oceanic lithosphere
  4. Conduction in the continental lithosphere
  5. Global heat loss of the Earth

Thermal convection in planetary mantles

  1. Conservation equations in the Boussinesq approximation
  2. Dimensional analysis and the Rayleigh number. Linear stability analysis for Rayleigh-Bénard convection
  3. Finite amplitude convection. Overview of the different regimes. Scaling of heat transfer using different approaches

    Convection à Ra=1e7

Thermal evolution of the Earth and planets

  1. Constraints on the thermal structure of the early Earth
  2. Parameterized evolution models using scaling laws for convective heat transfer in the mantle
  3. Notions on the thermodynamics of the core and coupled core-mantle evolution

Expected: Proficiency in the principles of fluid dynamics and thermodynamics and their application to the Earth interior.


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