vrijdag 10 mei 2013

Why Deep Earth Science?

As a child, you think the Earth is solid. Heck, many adults still think the Earth you walk on is solid, motionless and has infinite strength(...and is flat, well some think this). But it is not. The Earth can behave like a liquid, it moves a lot (in all directions) and it can break. This only takes a lot of time and we humble humans don't have the time to stick around long enough.

We know this only decades now (Ok, the not being flat part, maybe a bit longer). There are many scientists that are trying to figure out the dynamics, mechanics and materials of the Earth. And I am one of them. Well, I am learning to become one of them.

My job at the TU is to find a structural density and viscosity model of the crust and upper mantle below Scandinavia using mainly satellite based gravity data and observations of post-glacial rebound. A lot of deep Earth words, but I will try to discuss them in this blog of mine. The idea for this blog was for me to put my ideas on paper, some of those ideas would be about deep Earth science. Looking back at my previous posts, I found myself lacking in writing about DeepEarth science, so I will try to start now.

Why do we want to know about the processes and structures in the deep Earth? It is a curiosity based research and sometimes I have difficulty to defend this. It sounds much less interesting than orbiting satellites traveling to other planets and artificially programmed robots exploring ancient tombstones. However it is a fascinating research area, where not a lot is known. We like to say we know a lot, but the surface of the Moon and the planet Mars is better known than the deep layers of our home planet, Earth.

I will try in this blog to show you that (deep) Earth sciences is a fascinating research area with all its complexities and incredibly cool observation equipments. Really cool!!! I have to modify ESA and NASA satellite data, with super cool mathematics, using several super computers, producing nice colorful images (all my colleagues have stopped at my door, making comments about them.). All this to explain the movement of the "solid" Earth due to a large ice sheet (3-4 km thick) present 10,000 years ago giving me hints about the structure and rheology of its interior.

What would you say, if I told you that Sweden and Finland are rising (or in their perspective, the sea is retreating) as fast as 1 cm a year. So in my lifetime, the ground is gone up 27.5 cm, creating a lot of neighborhood problems, arguing who gets the 'new' land (Scandinavian countries have the best law system, as it comes to dividing land). This process will continue for a few decades, lifting the current ground to a height of 200 meters, removing the current Gulf of Bothnia.

Asking around, I found out that not a lot of people know this. Well, if I am honest, I did not know this until I began my studies. So as a good scientist would do, I will try to share this knowledge to you, I hope I can keep you interested.

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