A relatively young field developed only recently in the early 19th Century, seismology is an applied science with a theoretical
foundation in mathematics
: the study of the motion of the Earth
’s surface on short time scales (from milliseconds to hours).
Primarily it is the study of elastic
or seismic wave
s within the Earth, including their generation by earthquake
s or explosions, how they propagate
and the information they provide about the structure and nature of the Earth's interior. Seismology accounts for the bulk of knowledge of the earth's interior.
The data collected by the study of seismic waves provides a way of modelling earthquake occurences and propagation within the Earth of seismic waves. This in turn gives a greater insight into the composition of the Earth.
The field of seismology is divided into several broad categories:
Global seismology is the study of seismic waves produced by earthquakes and, to a lesser extent, nuclear explosions. Since nuclear explosions generate seismic waves and mimic shallow earthquakes, they are of interest to seismologists.
Exploration seismology is concerned with searching for resources such as coal, oil and mineral deposits using artifically generated seismic waves.
Planetary seismology is used to investigate the structure of and processes within planets and the natural satellites in the solar system.