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Geophysical methods also are used in certain geologic-engineering applications, as in determining the depth of alluvial fill that overlies bedrock, which is an important factor in the construction of highways and large buildings.

Much of the success of the plate tectonics theory has depended on the corroborative factual evidence provided by geophysical techniques.

A similar satellite ranging technique is also used to determine the drift rates of continents.

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The most likely explanation for this height variation is that the gravity (and density) anomalies are related to mantle convection and temperature differences at depth.The study of the Earth’s interior provides a good example of the geophysicist’s approach to problems. Extensive knowledge of the Earth’s interior has been derived from a variety of measurements, however, including seismic waves produced by quakes that travel through the Earth, measurements of the flow of heat from the Earth’s interior into the outer crust, and by astronomical and other geologic considerations.Geophysics may be divided into a number of overlapping branches in the following way: (1) study of the variations in the Earth’s gravity field; (2) seismology, the study of the Earth’s crust and interior by analysis of the transmission of elastic waves that are reflected or refracted; (3) the physics of the outer parts of the atmosphere, with particular attention to the radiation bombardment from the Sun and from outer space, including the influence of the Earth’s magnetic field on radiation intercepted by the planet; (4) terrestrial electricity, which is the study of the storage and flow of electricity in the atmosphere and the solid Earth; (5) remanent magnetism in rocks induced by the Earth’s magnetic field when the rocks were formed (paleomagnetism); (6) the study of the Earth’s thermal properties, including the temperature distribution of the Earth’s interior and the variation in the transmission of heat from the interior to the surface; and (7) the convergence of several of the above-cited branches for the study of the large-scale tectonic structures of the Earth, such as rifts, continental margins, subduction zones, mid-oceanic ridges, thrusts, and continental sutures.At another extreme, data gathered by rockets and satellites yield much information about radiation flux in space and the magnetic effects of the Earth and other planetary bodies, as well as providing high precision in establishing locations in geodetic surveying, particularly over the oceans.Finally, it should be emphasized that the tools of geophysics are essentially mathematical and that most geophysical concepts are necessarily expounded mathematically.

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