Seismic Wave Propagation

10 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 1GE014

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 will be able to

  • Derive the scalar wave equation from first principles
  • Describe surface waves and converted phases, and how these may elucidate Earth structure
  • Transform equations from the time-space domain to the frequency-wavenumber domain
  • Recite Snell’s law and apply it to solving ray tracing problems
  • Discretize partial differential equations to, in the limit, equivalent finite difference equations
  • Derive the eikonal equation and describe how it is used in travel time tomography
  • Apply Green’s functions in seismic applications
  • Give an account of the basic principles of reflection seismic data acquisition and processing
  • Apply simple processing steps to seismic data using the freely available Seismic Unix software package.
  • Produce a two-dimensional stacked seismic section from raw source gathers using shell scripts
  • Change computer code in the Seismic Unix package
  • Explain the concept of Kirchhoff migration and code an algorithm in the C language in order to apply two-dimensional Kirchhoff migration to a stacked seismic section
  • Explain the significance of the amplitudes of seismic waves and how they are attenuated and scattered in the Earth
  • Apply the basic techniques for analysis of receiver functions and for seismic tomography


Fourier analysis, equations of motion, acoustic wave equation, elastic wave equation, ray theory, kinematic and dynamic ray tracing, receiver functions, seismic tomography, basic reflection seismic acquisition and processing, Kirchhoff migration, downward continuation, plane wave decomposition, finite difference methods


Lectures, homework, problem solving and computer exercises.


Written examamination (8 ECTS) and compulsory parts (2 ECTS).