Geophysics (GP)

Geophysics emphasizes the application of the general principles of mathematics and experimental physics to fundamental problems of the oceans, the atmosphere, the oceanic and continental lithosphere, the cryosphere, and the crust and deep interior of the Earth.

Research interests of the group include:

  • Observational and theoretical studies of electric and magnetic fields in the oceans and on the land
  • Paleomagnetism
  • Theoretical seismology with special emphasis on the structure of the Earth from free-oscillation and body wave studies
  • Broad observational seismology, including ocean bottom and multichannel seismology
  • Earthquake source mechanisms
  • The measurements of slow crustal deformations using satellite and observatory methods on continents and in the oceans
  • Marine geodynamics and tectonophysics
  • Gravity measurements
  • Geophysical inverse theory
  • Observations of the ice sheets
  • Magnetohydrodynamics of the core of the Earth
  • Geophysical instrumentation for oceanic and continental geophysical measurements
  • Acoustic source mechanisms and propagation in the oceans and the atmosphere

Requirements for Admission

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the PhD program listed here, a major in physics, mathematics or earth sciences, or equivalent training, is required.

Program of Study

PhD:

Students admitted to Geosciences of the Earth, Oceans, and Planets (GEO) are assigned an adviser, who is the chair of their three-person guidance committee. Based on the student’s interests and the major affiliation of the adviser, students are assigned to a curricular group upon admission. Although students may change curricular groups in the course of the year, they must choose which departmental exam they will take. Departmental exams have similar structures among the curricular groups within GEO (a written exam at the end of spring quarter of their first year and an oral exam before the beginning of fall quarter of their second year). The material covered is quite different so students must begin preparing for a particular group's exam from the start. Student support for the first year comes from a variety of sources including departmental fellowships and research grants. Students are encouraged to begin a research project from the beginning and typically do not hold teaching assistant positions during their first year. Students may change advisers during their first year, and they must find an adviser by the end of the first year.

There is no single course of study appropriate to the geophysics curriculum; instead, the individual interests of the student will permit, in consultation with the first-year guidance committee, a choice of course work in seismology, geomagnetism, etc.

The content of six core courses taken during the first year (SIO 223B, SIO 224, SIO 225, SIO 227A, SIO 229, SIO 234) forms the basis for the written departmental examination. Those lacking adequate preparation in probability and statistics are encouraged to take SIO 221B, or a comparable course, before enrolling in SIO 223B. Students should also consider taking SIO 233 if they have little experience in programming.

Finally, students are also encouraged to participate in the Special Topics seminars (SIO 239) where students have a chance to practice their speaking skills before their peers.

MS:

The geophysics master’s degree provides a solid grounding in the fundamentals of geophysics for students intending to pursue professional positions in government, industry, or nonprofit organizations or to apply to PhD programs. Two different degree options are available:

Plan I—Thesis. This involves both course work and research, culminating in the preparation of a thesis. A total of thirty-six units of credit is required: twenty-four units must be from Category A courses (see below); and twelve units in research work leading to the thesis. Students should contact a thesis adviser and coadviser prior to, or as part of, the application process. Students are rarely accepted into the program without this prior consultation. This two-member faculty committee, in consultation with the student and the geophysics MS program director, will select the courses and research topic to be completed in two years or less.

Plan IIComprehensive Exam. This course of study is intended to be completed in a single year and requires a minimum of thirty-six credit units. At least twenty-four units must be from Category A and will be selected in consultation with the geophysics MS program director. The remaining twelve units are electives chosen from either Category A or B, or other courses taken with permission of the geophysics MS program director. Students must pass a comprehensive final examination at the end of the spring quarter of the first year, which will cover material in the Category A course work.

Category A courses (24 units):

  • SIO 223A Geophysical Data Analysis I (4 units)
  • SIO 223B. Geophysical Data Analysis II (4 units)
  • SIO 225. Physics of Earth Materials (4 units)
  • SIO 227A. Introduction to Seismology (4 units)
  • SIO 229. Gravity and Geomagnetism (4 units)
  • SIO 230. Introduction to Inverse Theory (4 units)
  • SIO 231. Introduction to EM Methods in Geophysics (4 units)
  • SIO 234. Geodynamics (4 units)
  • SIO 236. Satellite Remote Sensing (4 units)
  • SIO 239. Special Topics in Geophysics—Numerical Methods (4 units)

Category B courses (24 units):

  • SIO 105. Sedimentology and Stratigraphy  (4 units)
  • SIO 110. Introduction to GIS and GPS for Scientists (4 units)
  • SIO 113. Introduction to Computational Earth Science (4 units)
  • SIO 160. Introduction to Tectonics (4 units)
  • SIO 162. Structural Geology (4 units)
  • SIO 182A. Environmental and Exploration Geophysics (4 units)
  • SIO 182B. Environmental and Exploration Geophysics (4 units)
  • SIO 224. Internal Constitution of the Earth (4 units)
  • SIO 226. Introduction to Marine Geophysics (4 units)
  • SIO 227B. Advanced Seismology I (4 units)
  • SIO 227C. Advanced Seismology II (4 units)
  • SIO 233. Introduction to Computing (4 units)
  • SIO 239. Special Topics in Geophysics (4 units)
  • SIO 247. Rock Magnetism and Paleomagnetism (4 units)

Students are encouraged to participate in SIO 239, Special Topics in Geophysics, where students have a chance to practice their speaking skills before their peers.

Research in Geophysics

Of the sixteen categories of research at Scripps, the GP group is most closely associated with the following integrated research themes:

Geophysics Faculty and Researchers: