Earth's Core

Earth's Core

Geophysics of a Planet's Deepest Interior

1st Edition - December 4, 2021

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  • Authors: Vernon Cormier, Michael Bergman, Peter Olson
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128114001
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128113875

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Earth’s Core: Geophysics of a Planet’s Deepest Interior provides a multidisciplinary approach to Earth’s core, including seismology, mineral physics, geomagnetism, and geodynamics. The book examines current observations, experiments, and theories; identifies outstanding research questions; and suggests future directions for study.  With topics ranging from the structure of the core-mantle boundary region, to the chemical and physical properties of the core, the workings of the geodynamo, inner core seismology and dynamics, and core formation, this book offers a multidisciplinary perspective on what we know and what we know we have yet to discover. The book begins with the fundamental material and concepts in seismology, mineral physics, geomagnetism, and geodynamics, accessible from a wide range of backgrounds. The book then builds on this foundation to introduce current research, including observations, experiments, and theories. By identifying unsolved problems and promising routes to their solutions, the book is intended to motivate further research, making it a valuable resource both for students entering Earth and planetary sciences and for researchers in a particular subdiscipline who need to broaden their understanding.

Key Features

  • Includes multidisciplinary observations constraining the composition and dynamics of the Earth’s core
  • Concisely presents competing theories and arguments on the composition, state, and dynamics of the Earth’s interior
  • Provides observational tests of various theories to enhance understanding
  • Serves as a valuable resource for researchers in deep earth geophysics, as well as many sub-disciplines, including seismology, geodynamics, geomagnetism, and mineral physics


Geophysicists, seismologists, and geochemists; graduate students and early career post-doctoral fellows in deep earth geophysics in the subfields of seismology, geodynamics, geomagnetism, and mineral physics

Table of Contents

  • Cover image
  • Title page
  • Table of Contents
  • Copyright
  • About the authors
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Radial structure of Earth's core
  • Abstract
  • 1.1: Geophysical evidence
  • 1.2: Reference models
  • 1.3: Analysis of the seismic wavefield
  • 1.4: Viscoelastic attenuation
  • 1.5: Scattering
  • 1.6: Anisotropy
  • 1.7: Viscosity
  • 1.8: Summary
  • Appendix 1.1 Moment of inertia
  • Appendix 1.2 Elastic equation of motion
  • Appendix 1.3 Seismic nomenclature
  • Appendix 1.4 Adams-Williamson equation and the Bullen parameter
  • Appendix 1.5 Viscoeleastic attenuation parameterization
  • Appendix 1.6 Birch's law and seismic velocity/density relations
  • Appendix 1.7 Composite elastic moduli and density
  • Appendix 1.8 Elastic anisotropy
  • Appendix 1.9 Equations of state
  • References
  • Chapter 2: Chemical and physical state of the core
  • Abstract
  • 2.1: Composition of the core
  • 2.2: Temperature in the core
  • 2.3: Transport properties of the core
  • 2.4: Thermodynamics of the core
  • 2.5: Inner core mineralogy
  • 2.6: Summary
  • Appendix 2.1 Construction of phase diagrams and the partition coefficient
  • Appendix 2.2 Thermodynamic relations and the Gruneisen parameter
  • Appendix 2.3 The free electron Fermi gas, phonons, and the Debye model
  • Appendix 2.4 Miller indices and pole figures
  • References
  • Chapter 3: Geodynamo and geomagnetic basics
  • Abstract
  • 3.1: Preliminaries
  • 3.2: The geomagnetic field in the core
  • 3.3: The geodynamo process
  • 3.4: Geomagnetic images of the core flow
  • 3.5: Summary
  • Appendix
  • References
  • Chapter 4: Outer core dynamics
  • Abstract
  • 4.1: The outer core environment
  • 4.2: Dimensionless parameters
  • 4.3: Thermochemical transport and buoyancy
  • 4.4: Steady laminar flows
  • 4.5: Waves in the outer core
  • 4.6: Outer core convection
  • 4.7: Numerical dynamos
  • 4.8: Summary
  • Appendix
  • References
  • Chapter 5: Boundary regions
  • Abstract
  • 5.1: D″ (lowermost mantle region)
  • 5.2: CMB topography
  • 5.3: E′ region (uppermost outer core)
  • 5.4: F region
  • 5.5: ICB topography
  • 5.6: Summary
  • References
  • Chapter 6: Inner core explored with seismology
  • Abstract
  • 6.1: Elastic anisotropy
  • 6.2: Attenuation and scattering
  • 6.3: Hemispherical differences
  • 6.4: Differential rotation
  • 6.5: Shear modulus, density, and viscosity
  • 6.6: Summary
  • References
  • Chapter 7: Inner core dynamics
  • Abstract
  • 7.1: Solidification of the inner core
  • 7.2: Deformation in the inner core
  • 7.3: Annealing: Recovery, recrystallization, grain growth, and coarsening
  • 7.4: Grain size and the deformation mechanism map of the inner core
  • 7.5: Inner core viscosity
  • 7.6: Inner core elastic anisotropy, attenuation, and isotropic heterogeneity
  • 7.7: Summary
  • References
  • Chapter 8: Formation and evolution of the core
  • Abstract
  • 8.1: Formation of the core
  • 8.2: Core evolution
  • 8.3: The geodynamo in the deep past
  • 8.4: Seeding the early geodynamo
  • 8.5: Summary
  • Appendix
  • References
  • Chapter 9: Future research goals
  • Abstract
  • 9.1: Introduction
  • 9.2: Seismology
  • 9.3: Mineral physics
  • 9.4: Core dynamics
  • References
  • Notation tables
  • Core properties and parameters
  • Glossary
  • Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 324
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2021
  • Published: December 4, 2021
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128114001
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128113875

About the Authors

Vernon Cormier

Vernon F. Cormier is a Professor of Physics and Geophysics at the University of Connecticut. He received a BS from the California Institute of Technology and a PhD from Columbia University. His research has specialized in seismic wave propagation and deep Earth structure. He has served as an editor for the Geophysical Journal International and Physics of the Earth’s Interior. Among services to professional societies he has served the Seismological Society of America as Vice President and the American Geophysical Union as Secretary of the Seismology Section and Chair of the Study of Earth’s Deep Interior (SEDI) focus group.

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Physics, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, United States

Michael Bergman

Michael I. Bergman is the Emily H. Fisher Professor of Physics at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, where he teaches courses ranging from Introduction to Geology to Solid-state Physics to a field course in Volcanology on the island of Montserrrat. He earned a BA from Columbia University and a PhD from MIT. His research has focused on the solidification and deformation of metals, alloys, and aqueous solutions, with applications to Earth’s core and sea ice. He is the recipient of the Doornbos Prize for research on the deep Earth by a beginning investigator, has been the long-standing secretary of SEDI, and has served as guest editor for several journals.

Affiliations and Expertise

Faculty in Physics, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, United States

Peter Olson

Peter L. Olson is an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico. He earned a BA from the University of Colorado and a PhD from the University of California Berkeley. His research focuses on the dynamics of Earth and other planets. He co-authored a book on convection in planetary mantles and served on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the US National Academy of Sciences, and received the Petrus Peregrinus Medal from the European Geosciences Union and the Inge Lehmann Medal from the American Geophysical Union.

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

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