Major branch of earth science that applies the principles and methods of physics to the study of the Earth. Geophysics deals with such geologic phenomena as the temperature distribution of the Earth's interior; the source, configuration, and variations of the geomagnetic field; and the large-scale features of the terrestrial crust, such as rifts, continental sutures, and oceanic ridges. Modern geophysical research also examines phenomena of the outer parts of the Earth's atmosphere and even the physical properties of other planets and their satellites. See also marine geophysics.
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