69730 - Theoretical Seismology

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Docente: Michele Dragoni
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: GEO/10
  • Language: Italian
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Physics of the Earth System (cod. 8626)

Learning outcomes

The student acquires a basic knowledgeabout the physics of seismic sources and the generation, propagation and recording of seismic waves.

Course contents

Introduction to theoretical seismology. The seismic source: faults, the seismic dislocation, the spectrum of seismic waves, magnitude and energy of earthquakes. Seismic waves: propagation in inhomogeneous media, seismic rays in the Earth, surface waves and dispersion, absorption of seismic waves. Effects of earthquakes: the Earth's free oscillations, the change in the Earth's rotation, the tsunami. Mechanics of fault systems: fault systems, faults as dynamical systems, discrete models of fault systems. Seismic hazard: probability of events, calculation of hazard, seismic scenarios.

It is assumed that the student has a good preliminary knowledge of the basic concepts of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and theory of elasticity.


Each lesson is accompanied by the projection of a file PowerPoint. The collection of files, divided into chapters, contains an exhaustive treatment of the program and can be used as a textbook for the study of the subject. The files in pdf format are available since the beginning of the course and can be reached from the web page of the course.

If they wish to go deeper into the topics of the course, students may consult the following textbooks:

- K. Aki and P. G. Richards, Quantitative Seismology, 2nd edition, University Science Books, Sausalito CA, 2002.

- A. Ben-Menahem and S. J. Singh, Seismic Waves and Sources, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1981.

- F. A. Dahlen and J. Tromp, Theoretical Global Seismology, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1998.

- E. Boschi and M. Dragoni, Sismologia, UTET, Torino, 2000.

- C. H. Scholz, The Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990.

The textbooks are available in the Library of the Department of Physics and Astronomy (Sector of Geophysics, viale Carlo Berti Pichat 8).

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures with projection of files PowerPoint.

Assessment methods

The exam will be oral and will generally last about 30 minutes.

The student will be asked in sequence to illustrate three topics, among those considered in the course. For each topic, the student will be first asked to expose the general framework, then to go into details on some specific aspects.

The student will be requested to know the main equations of the physical theories employed and to know how they are derived; to be able to apply them to specific cases; to know the orders of magnitude of the employed physical quantities.

Teaching tools

Computer and projector.

Office hours

See the website of Michele Dragoni


Quality education Sustainable cities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.