Earth Dynamics

Dynamic processes in the Earth are fundamental in shaping its internal structure as well as its surficial landscapes. The NGU investigates Earth dynamics at a range of scales, from tectonic plate movements through the formation of mountains and rifted margins, to processes of faulting and sedimentation.

The Earth consists of several layers: a strong outer crustal layer, a lithosphere with strong and weak regions, a viscous mantle, and finally Earth’s core. The rocks in these layers deform on geological time-scales, driven by heat from the decay of radiogenic elements and heat left over from Earth’s formation. On a large scale, lithosphere movements drive mantle flow through subduction and seafloor spreading at mid-ocean ridges. In turn, dynamic flow of the mantle drives lithosphere deformation. On a regional scale, feedback processes occur between erosion and sedimentation at Earth’s surface and tectonic deformation.

Dynamic processes in the Earth shape the surface on which we live. These include the subduction of lithosphere and formation of mountain belts, the rifting of continents and formation of passive margins, and the erosion and deposition of rocks at the Earth´s surface. An understanding of the dynamic evolution of these processes is of prime importance for understanding the hazards related to them - volcanism, landslides and earthquakes - and for research into geological resources, such as petroleum and industrial minerals.