What is Geodynamics?

Instructor: David Gloag
In this lesson, we'll take a look at Geodynamics, what it is, what it's used for, and how computers are used in it. At the end, you should have a good understanding of this interesting area.

Understanding What's Within

Our world is constantly changing, but we don't always notice it. It's not just the people and things on Earth that change, but the surface of the Earth itself. We see evidence of this change in eruptions from volcanoes and in the surface shifts caused by earthquakes. We also see it in ocean floor cracks that open and close. These are the external manifestations of something that occurs deep within the Earth and a testament to the associated change. Have you ever wondered what causes this? Or why these things appear where they do? Most of us have. It's hard not to wonder when the effects are so significant. Fortunately, there is a discipline that tries to answer these questions. It is called Geodynamics.

What is Geodynamics?

Geodynamics is the area of science that strives to understand the internal forces of the Earth and their effects on the crust or surface. It is a multi-disciplinary area that makes use of elements from physics, chemistry, mathematics, and more recently computer science, to generate that understanding. Think back to the time you saw the cut-away volcano model at your school or local museum. Do you remember how it described lava movement before it erupted? This is an example of Geodynamics at work. The information derived from Geodynamic investigation supported the development of the model.

What is Geodynamics Used For?

Geodynamics looks at the macro side of things, tending to focus on the effects on the Earth from a global scale. In particular, it tries to explain cracks on the Earth's surface or the ocean floor, the creation of mountains, the eruption of volcanoes, and earthquakes. But more than that, it looks at the resulting changes to the overall shape of land masses and oceans. For example, a lot of research has focused on Yellowstone National Park, and the super-volcano caldera the park is built upon. As you may imagine, this is of particular interest to those that live in and around the park.

Computers Use in Geodynamics

Computers play a significant role in Geodynamics. In fact, some of the more recent discoveries would not be possible without computers. Specifically, computers perform the following:

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