Education at the Laboratory of Earth's Magnetism

B. Sc. level

Geophysical education at the Earth Physics Department starts in the 3rd year (6th semester) with the lecture course "Earth's Gravity and Magnetic Fields", given by V. A. Shashkanov, head of the Laboratory of Earth's Magnetism. At the same time, students must also choose a topic for their course work.

During the 4th year students continue their fundamental education in geophysics, which includes basic lecture courses in Geoelectricity, Seismology, and Physics of the Sun. The 4th year curriculum includes also Laboratory courses in Geophysics, which cover the same subjects as the lecture courses. To graduate with the Bachelor of Physics degree , students must defend the graduate work, which usually consists of a short but self-consistent experimental study.

Academic courses:

Earth's Gravity and Magnetic Fields  (lecturer: V. A. Shashkanov)

The course consists of two parts that include questions of Earth gravity and magnetism.

·         Gravity field - The goal of this part is the introduction to the study of Earth figure by gravitational method. The evolution of ideas of Earth figure and methods to investigate it is summarized. Gravimetry is taught starting from the basic  ideas of Newton, Huygens, Clairaut. The idea of  the figure of "normal" Earth is introduced and its surface distribution of gravity force is derived (Clairaut theorem). The main attention is given to the question of measuring of the geoid (Stokes problem) and of the physical Earth surface (Molodensky problem). The theory of solar and lunar tides is reviewed. Principles of satellite gravimetry are analyzed.

·         Earth magnetic field - The structure of present-day geomagnetic field and its analytic description, archaeomagnetism and paleomagnetism as methods of investigation of the past geomagnetic field, mechanism of generation of the geomagnetic field and energy sources of the geodynamo are considered. (72 hours)

Gravity and Magnetic Exploration (lecturer: V. A. Shashkanov)

Physical principles of gravity and magnetic geophysical exploration are considered. The association of two methods of exploration into one course is substantiated. The curriculum covers both organization and conducting the survey (methods and principles of measuring gravity and magnetic fields) and all stages of analysis and interpretation of survey results. (36 hours)


M.Sc. students study how to measure gravitational (left photo) and magnetic (right photo) anomalies under Dr. Petrov supervision (Summer field practice in gravitational and magnetic explorations, Peterhoff, June 1999).

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M. Sc. level

Laboratory of Earth's Magnetism is the base for the M. Sc. program "Paleomagnetism and Rock Magnetism". It includes advanced lecture courses in various aspects of paleo- and rock magnetism, as well as advanced laboratory courses. Study at M. Sc. level is terminated with the defense of academic dissertation.

Duration:  2 years (4 semesters)


·         Graduates of Faculty of Physics, Saint-Petersburg University at B.Sc. or Specialist level with records rating higher than 4.0 (by the 5-grade scale) - by competition of records;

·         Graduates of other faculties of Saint-Petersburg University at B.Sc. or Specialist level  with records rating higher than 4.0 - by colloquium;

·         Graduates of Saint-Petersburg University at B.Sc. or Specialist level, having records rating lower than 4.0 and graduates of other universities / institutes - by the results of Examination in General Physics.

Academic courses:

Foundations of Ferromagnetism (lecturer: I. N. Petrov)

The course is addressed to M. Sc. students specializing in the field of geomagnetism, rock magnetism and paleomagnetism. The main subject of the course is all magnetic phenomena - paramagnetism, diamagnetism and ferromagnetism. A major part of the course is devoted to the study of ferromagnetism because it forms the basis of rock-magnetic phenomena. The ultimate goal of lectures is to teach M. Sc. students to apply basic concepts of ferromagnetism to rock-magnetic studies. Classical theories of para- and diamagnetism (after Langevin, Weiss, Frenkel, Geizenberg) are considered, followed by modern quantum mechanical concepts of the origin of ferromagnetism. Special attention is given to the magnetic anisotropy of ferromagnets,  theory of domain structure, magnetic hysteresis, theory of isothermal magnetization, energy balance during remagnetization process, and to the magnetization process of single- and pseudosingledomain particles and quasi-singledomain areas. Influence of physical defects in the crystalline lattice on the magnetization of real crystals and dependence of structure-sensitive parameters of ferrimagnets on temperature are considered. (72 hours)

Rock Magnetism (lecturer: I. N. Petrov)

The course is addressed to M. Sc. students specializing in the field of geomagnetism, paleomagnetism and rock magnetism. Rocks are a very specific object from the point of view of magnetism. They contain many kinds of ferrimagnetic crystals dispersed in a non-magnetic (silicate) matrix. Natural ferrimagnets exhibit a wide diversity of magnetic properties, their magnetic behavior being further complicated due to various possible kinds of defects present in their crystalline lattice. Remanent magnetization of rocks, which is the main carrier of the paleomagnetic information, may as well be of different origins and hence exhibit widely diverging properties. Different possible magnetic states of rocks, concepts of coercivity spectrum and  Preisach-Néel diagram, and magnetic properties of main natural ferrimagnetic minerals are considered. A special attention is given to the magnetic properties of magnetite. Phenomena of low-temperature memory of magnetite-bearing rocks and of high-temperature magnetic memory of hypergenetically altered (cation-deficient) magnetites are reviewed. (54 hours)

How to Obtain Paleomagnetic Information (lecturer: V. A. Shashkanov)

The course gives basic knowledge of physical and geophysical foundations of paleomagnetism as a branch of geophysics; the role of paleomagnetism in building the modern paradigm of geology and geophysics is highlighted. The notion of paleomagnetic information is introduced and principles of interpretation of paleomagnetic data and methods of evaluation of the reliability of paleomagnetic results are considered. Methodology of paleomagnetic measurements is reviewed as applied for igneous and sedimentary rocks with the emphasis on the peculiarity of various kinds of rocks as paleomagnetic recorders. (36 hours)

Paleomagnetism and Archaeomagnetism (lecturer: V. A. Shashkanov)

The course reviews the current state-of-art in archaeo- and paleomagnetism. The introductory part gives a summary of main ideas concerning the present-day geomagnetic field: surface distribution of its elements and their variation; the notion of paleomagnetic dipole is introduced. Basic postulates of paleomagnetism are formulated. Methods of archaeo- and palaeomagnetic investigations are reviewed and the results obtained are discussed. (36 hours)

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Ph. D. level

Duration:  3 years (extra year can be given if a foreign student takes Russian language course).

Studies at the Ph. D. (Candidate of  Science) level are usually arranged on an individual basis. M. Sc. graduates in geophysics and physics are eligible. Citizens of Russia have to pass entry examinations in General Solid Earth Physics ("specialty" exam), Philosophy and Foreign Language (commonly English, also German or French).

Foreign citizens interested in pursuing a Ph. D. study at the Earth's Magnetism Laboratory are strongly advised to contact directly Prof. Vladimir A. Shashkanov.

During the study "Candidate examination" have to be passed including "Specialty" (General Solid Earth Physics - Part I, Physical basis of Paleo- and Rock Magnetism - Part II), Philosophy, and Foreign Language.

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General information about the study at the Faculty of Physics



Last revised: July 22, 2003