Physical Properties of Rocks

5 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 1GE053

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, 12 March 2015
Responsible department
Department of Earth Sciences

Entry requirements

180 credits with 75 credits in physics and mathematics; alternatively, with 75 credits in Earth science, 15 credits in physics, and 15 credits in mathematics.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Derive and use relationships between different physical rock properties
  • Determine appropriate tools and methods for calculating physical properties of rocks.
  • Carry out laboratory and field measurements of rock density, seismic velocities, magnetic susceptibility, and conductivity
  • Interpret geophysical field observations (e.g., a seismic section) and provide possible explanations for the features observed.
  • Derive synthetic forward models (e.g., synthetic seismograms from borehole sonic and density data).
  • Describe scale-dependence of physical properties and their variations in the Earth’s crust and below.


Porosity, density, and permeability, Darcy’s law, elasticity, fourth rank stiffness and compliance tensors. Relationships between porosity and seismic velocity. Seismic properties of rocks and rock-forming minerals. Attenuation, anisotropy, dispersion, and shear-wave splitting. Dynamic and static properties of rocks. Diamagnetism, paramagnetism, and ferromagnetism. Magnetic susceptibility and remanence. Effect of pressure and temperature on magnetic properties. Electrical resistivity and conductivity, Archie’s law. Thermal conductivity, specific heat, and radioactive heat production. Heat budget of the Earth. In-situ and downhole physical property measurements.


Lectures, homework, problem solving, computer exercises, lab and field measurements, seminar.


Written examination (2 credits), homework assignments (1 credit), computer projects (1 credit), and written report (1 credit).