31259 - Foundations of Geophysics 1

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Physics (cod. 9245)

    Also valid for Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Physics of the Earth System (cod. 8626)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will possess a solid background in continuum mechanics, the basic concepts of tensor algebra, the main properties of the strain and stress tensors and the constitutive relationships of elastic materials, their use to describe elastic waves, the state of stress within the Earth, faulting and intrusion processes. In particular, the student will be able - to distinguish and characterize the stress regimes present in different regions of the Earth - to solve 2-D dislocation problems .

Course contents

Mechanics of continuum media. Stress and strain. Conservation laws. Thermo-Elastic materials. Elastic and adiabatic moduli.

Isotropic elastic media. Constraints on elastic moduli. Equations of motion (Cauchy-Navier). Elastic waves: polarization, boundary conditions at a free surface, a compositional interface, a solid-fluid interface.

Stress within the Earth, theories of faulting. Elastostatic problems in a half-space: the Airy stress function.

Potentials in the theory of elasticity. Elastic dislocations and their representation.

Darcy's law and poroelasticity.


Lecture notes (Proff. Maurizio Bonafede, M.E. Belardinelli) which will be available online (on Virtuale platform).

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures and tutorials

Assessment methods

Oral examination: typically 3 questions are proposed to assess the student's theoretical knowledge of the Mechanics of elastic solids and its application to the study of the interior of the Earth. The duration of the examination is about 1 hour. The candidate is likely to be requested both to prove the main theoretical results and to estimate some of the physical parameters of the Earth interior.

Teaching tools

Slides will be available online (on Virtuale platform).

Office hours

See the website of Maria Elina Belardinelli


Sustainable cities

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