Master’s studies

Syllabus for The Earth's Potential Fields

Jordens potentialfält


  • 5 credits
  • Course code: 1GE035
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Physics A1N, Earth Science A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), 3, 4, 5.
  • Established: 2015-03-12
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: week 01, 2015
  • Entry requirements: 120 credits including 75 credits in physics and mathematics.
  • Responsible department: Department of Earth Sciences

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Compare the gravitational and magnetic fields in terms of Gauss’s theorem and the Helmholtz decomposition.
  • Develop the potential fields in terms of harmonic functions (Fourier components and spherical harmonics) and use the result for upward and downward continuation.
  • Give a detailed description of how the Earth’s gravity and magnetic fields can be measured and analysed.
  • Derive methods for mapping structures and processes in the Earth’s interior related to the gravitational and the magnetic fields.
  • Describe the fundamentals of forward and inverse modelling applied to the Earth’s potential fields.


Greens identities, Helmholtz theorem, Green’s functions and Gauss's law for the gravitational and magnetic fields. Vector and scalar potentials. Magnetisation, magnetic permeability and susceptibility. Poisson’s relation between the magnetic potential and the gravitational field. Spherical harmonic analysis and Fourier methods. The Earth's gravity field, the geoid and the shape of the Earth. The gravity field and the density distribution in the Earth's interior. Methods for measuring gravity. Calculation and interpretation of gravity anomalies. Origin of the geomagnetic field and its variation in time and space. Geomagnetic measuring techniques. Magnetometric interpretation. Forward methods: gravity and magnetic models. Inverse methods.


Lectures, homework, problem solving.


Written examination (4 credits) and homework assignments (1 credit).

Reading list

Applies from: week 01, 2015

  • Blakely, Richard J. Potential theory in gravity and magnetic applications

    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996

    Find in the library