Simulation of Geophysical Systems

10 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 1GE015

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Earth Science A1N, Physics A1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
Finalised by
The Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 17 May 2013
Responsible department
Department of Earth Sciences

Entry requirements

120 credits including 80 credits in physics and mathematics.

Learning outcomes

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

• Write down and apply the conservation equations of momentum, energy, and mass.

• describe conceptually and in equations the fundamentally different types of material behaviours (rheologies).

• Formulate and solve a complete set of dynamical equations.

• Find the principal orientations of the tensor fields of stress and strain.

• Derive the Navier-Stokes equation from the conservation equations and a viscous rheology.

• Write down and solve the flexure equation for an elastic plate.

• Write down and solve the equations for heat flux and heat diffusion.

• Write down and explain Darcy's Law and derive the resulting equation for the pressure as a potential.

• Code one- and two-dimensional finite difference models of linear dynamical systems using MATLAB.

• Code spectral models of linear systems with constant coefficients using MATLAB.

• Describe the differences and limitations of the different numerical techniques and be choose the most appropriate method accordingly.

• Explain the difference between Dirichlet and Neumann boundary conditions.

• use the commercial code Comsol Multiphysics to solve a variety of dynamical problems.

• Produce visualisation of the output (graphs, contour plots, movies, etc.)



Stress and strain in solids.

Elasticity and flexure.

Heat transfer.

Fluid mechanics.

Rock rheology.

Fluid flow through porous media.

Numerical Methods:

Theory of finite differences with simple applications.

Basic techniques of forward timestepping.

Fast Fourier Transform and spectral methods with simple applications.

Basics of the finite element method.

Applications using the commercial finite element package Comsol Multiphysics.


Lectures, homework, problem solving and computer exercises.


Written examination (8 ECTS) and compulsory part (2 ECTS).