• Class Number 6481
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Hrvoje Tkalcic
    • Prof Hrvoje Tkalcic
    • Prof Louis Moresi
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
SELT Survey Results

The course is an introduction to physics of the solid Earth intended for students with substantial background in physics and mathematics including calculus. The course will provide an overview of the structure and evolution of the Earth as a dynamic planet within our solar system. Physical principles will be applied to the following topics: theory of elasticity and elastic wave propagation; modern global seismology as a probe of the Earth's internal structure; earthquakes and the description of seismic sources; a simple but fundamental theory of thermal convection; the distinctive rheological behaviour of the upper mantle and its top layer, controlled by significant changes in the mechanical properties of the material, will then be explored to arrive at a comprehensive description of what forces drive and resist global plate motions.

Honours Pathway Option

Students taking the HP advanced option will undertake an individual project on a topic of interest from the course syllabus. Such project shall develop in consultation with the course lecturers, and may be in the form of a reading project or a laboratory/numerical experiment accompanied by a final report. The assessment of the project will be agreed upon and undertaken in a manner appropriate to the project itself (e.g. a written report or essay, a short talk etc.). Students taking the HP option may elect to substitute their project mark either with up to two (out of four) individual assignments or with one of the experiments and accompanying report normally undertaken during the course (this amounts to a total of 10-20% of the final grade). The assessment weight towards the exam will remain the same.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Discuss the theoretical basis for modern global seismology and employ methods based on such theory to understand earthquake phenomena and the seismological probing of earth structure.
  2. Explain the governing dynamics of mantle and lithosphere, and use such understanding to make reliable estimates of the forces controlling plate motions and their temporal changes.

Research-Led Teaching

In both modules, the lectures consist of fundamental Earth physics concepts, as well as selected groundbreaking research results of the past few years. Usually, this is a selection of results developed by the Seismology & Mathematical Geophysics group at ANU, and/or other significant recent results within the intellectual context of the course. A significant element of research-led teaching occurs through students' oral presentations of the selected research papers where we engage in group discussions and explore how the selected papers utilize and address topics from the course curriculum. In module 2, the computer labs are based on research codes that can be applied to relatively simple problems that we encounter in the course. This course has been adjusted for remote participation in Sem 2 2021, however, students are encouraged to attend on-campus activities if possible. The lectures will be recorded. The labs will be delivered in a dual-mode: online participants will require convenient and stable access to the Unix/Linux server. We strongly recommend students attend on-campus labs.

Field Trips


Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment

180 min. Answer five of the six questions. All questions will. be of equal value. All questions to be completed in the script book provided. A calculator is allowed.

Required Resources

1) The Solid Earth - Second Edition: An Introduction to Global Geophysics by C. M. R. Fowler (Chapters 4 & 8; Appendix 1-10) - Cambridge Univ. Press (QC806.F625)

2) The Earth’s Inner Core by H. Tkalcic (Chapters 2-4, 6, Appendix A-D) - Cambridge University Press

3) Dynamic Earth, Cambridge University Press (QE509.4 .D38 1999) by Davies, G. F. (1999)

4) Turcotte, Donald, and Gerald Schubert. Geodynamics. Cambridge university press, 2002 (QE501 .T83 2002)

 (More recent editions are fine too)

•Modern Global Seismology (intermediate level)

 by T. Lay and Wallace (QE534.2M62)

•Introduction to Seismology, Cambridge University Press - available online as a pdf

by Shearer, P.M. (QE534.2 .S455 1999)

•Fundamentals of Geophysics

 by W. Lowrie (Chapters 1 & 3) - Cambridge University Press (QC.806.L67)

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities, including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well, but a computer/laptop may be more appropriate in some situations.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g., headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi, then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing and photo/scanning equipment

For more information, please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback during review sessions and via email. Students are welcome to drop in during office hours.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

This course has been adjusted for remote participation in Sem 2 2021, however, students are encouraged to attend on-campus activities if possible. The lectures will be recorded. The labs will be delivered in a dual-mode: online participants will require convenient and stable access to the Unix/Linux server. We strongly recommend students attend on-campus labs.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Module 1/ Week 1 1/1 Introduction 1/2 Inverse theory; linearized methods 1/3 Inverse theory; probabilistic methods Tutorial: Inverse theory Computer lab: Intro to Unix & Seismic Analysis Code (SAC)
2 Module 1/ Week 2 2/1 Introduction II; The things that Jules Verne didn’t know I 2/2 The things that Jules Verne didn’t know II 2/3 Introduction to rocks; theory of elasticity Tutorial: General questions & discussion; The strength of rocks; the height of the cliffs on Earth and other planets Computer lab: Earthquake location 1
3 Module 1/ Week 3 2/1 Theory of elasticity contd.; Hooke’s law 2/2 Wave equation 2/3 Wave equation contd.; Energy partitioning and boundary conditions Tutorial: Vector & differential calculus revision; tensors; Earthquake hypocentre location Computer lab: Earthquake location 2 Assignment due end Week 3 (10% of the mark)
4 Module 1/ Week 4 3/1 Energy partitioning revision; Intro to ray theory; Fermat’s principle 2/2 Ray theory; parametric travel-time/epicentral distance equations 2/3 Wiechert-Herglotz inversion for Earth’s velocity structure Tutorial: Liquid/solid boundary; energy partitioning and boundary conditions; Snell’s law via Fermat principle Computer lab: Seismic source inversion 1 Lab 1 report due end week 4 (5% of the mark)
5 Module 1/ Week 5 1/1 Mohorovicic’s method and discovery of Moho 1/2 Introduction to seismic sources 1/3 Seismic sources contnd. Tutorial: Body waves nomenclature; Discussion about moment tensor inversion; Surface waves Computer lab: Seismic source inversion 2 Assignment due Week 5 (10% of the mark)
6 Module 1/ Week 6 1/1 Earth structure I 1/2 Earth structure II 1/3 The things that Jules Verne didn’t know and the things we know today Tutorial: Course revision Computer lab: Catch up and miscellaneous Oral presentation end week 6 (10% of the mark) Lab 2 report due end of week 1 of the break (5% of the mark)
7 Module 2 / Week 1 Introduction to module 2: Geological time, the age of the Earth, plate tectonics and viscoelastic flow. Tutorial: An introduction to dating Computer lab: Dynamic models 1
8 Module 2 / Week 2 The principles of fluid dynamics: viscous flow v. inviscid flow v. creeping flow. Tutorial: Plate tectonic theory Computer lab?: Dynamic models 2
9 Module 2 / Week 3 The Earth’s heat engine and plate motions, theory and application to terrestrial planets Tutorial: Continuum mechanics, Non-dimensional numbers the Navier-Stokes and Stokes equations - pt1 Computer lab: Dynamic models 3
10 Module 2 / Week 4 The Earth’s gravity field, topography and relation to internal dynamics. Tutorial: Continuum mechanics, Non-dimensional numbers the Navier-Stokes and Stokes equations - pt2 Computer lab: Project work 1
11 Module 2 / Week 5 The dynamics of the Earth’s Lithosphere and the connection between internal dynamics and Earthquakes Tutorial: Open Discussion Computer lab: Project work 2
12 Module 2 / Week 6 The relationship between whole Earth dynamics, global and local changes in sea-level. Tutorial: Open Discussion Computer lab: Project finalisation

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Examination 40 % 04/11/2021 02/12/2021 1,2
Homework assignment 10 % 13/08/2021 * 1,2
Computer Lab assignment (1 of 2) 5 % 20/08/2021 * 1,2
Oral Presentation 10 % 03/09/2021 * 1,2
Computer Lab assignment (2 of 2) 5 % 10/09/2021 * 1,2
Homework assessments, Module 2 15 % 15/10/2021 * 1,2
Computer lab project Module 2 15 % 29/10/2021 * 1,2

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Participation in lectures is strongly recommended. Participation in computer labs is required. Participation in tutorials is not mandatory but is strongly recommended.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 04/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 02/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2


Answer five of the six questions (3 questions from Module 1 and 3 questions from Module 2). All questions are of equal value.

All questions to be completed in the script book provided.

The date range in the Assessment Summary indicates the start of the end of semester exam period and the date official end of semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, time and location exam.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 13/08/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Homework assignment

A combination of descriptive and problem tasks related to the lecture content.

Due: 13 Aug (end of week 3)

Marked assessments will be returned within 1-2 weeks from submission.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 20/08/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Computer Lab assignment (1 of 2)

There are two assignments related to each computer lab topic in Phase I of the course. The first assignment is on earthquake location using travel times of P and S waves and the method of triangulation. This assignment includes a computer program for the determination of the earthquake location.

Due: 20 August (end week 4)

Computer Lab assignment will be returned to students within 2-3 weeks.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 03/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Oral Presentation

Students present selected research papers relevant to the course content. Each presentation is 15-20 minutes long. Students are assessed on their understanding of the content, oral presentations skills including the timing, participation in the discussion.

Due: 3 Sept (end week 6)

Feedback will be returned to students within 1-2 weeks.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 10/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Computer Lab assignment (2 of 2)

There are two assignments related to each computer lab topic in Phase I of the course. The second assignment is on seismic moment tensor inversion using full-waveform modeling and inverse theory concepts.

Due: 10 Sept (end week 1 of teaching break)

Computer Lab assignment will be returned to students within 2-3 weeks.

Assessment Task 6

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 15/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Homework assessments, Module 2

Multiple short tasks arising from lecture and tutorial materials.

Due: 15 Oct (end of Week 10)

Marked assessments will be returned within 1-2 weeks from submission.

Assessment Task 7

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 29/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Computer lab project Module 2

There will be a number of projects from which students can choose to work on 1 over the second half of the course. The final result will be a jupyter-notebook based written project with results from numerical models included. Credit will be given for contextualizing the work and for the computer code.

Due: 29 October (end Week 12)

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned via different mechanisms. Check with the course and module conveners.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Not permitted

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Hrvoje Tkalcic

Research Interests

Structure and dynamics of the Earth's interior using observational seismology (both seismic and correlation wavefield) and advances in mathematical geophysics; the inner and outer core, the lowermost mantle, inner boundaries; characterisation of inhomogeneities and anisotropy in Earth; new approaches in lithospheric imaging. - physics of seismic sources; full moment tensor representation of non-double-couple sources. - improving global coverage of seismic data by deployments in remote regions of Earth. -forensic seismology; Antarctic seismology, planetary seismology.

Prof Hrvoje Tkalcic

Friday 14:00 15:00
Friday 14:00 15:00
Prof Hrvoje Tkalcic

Research Interests

Prof Hrvoje Tkalcic

Friday 14:00 15:00
Friday 14:00 15:00
Prof Louis Moresi

Research Interests

Prof Louis Moresi

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions