A geophysical tour of mid-ocean ridges

Mid-ocean ridges are the places where the oceanic crust and lithosphere are born. They are large mountain ranges in the deep ocean, stretching all around the globe and with heights rivaling that of the tallest mountains on land. Ridges are also a key part of plate tectonics, a major component of the biogeochemical cycle of the oceans, and the home of unique biological communities.

In this tutorial, we'll study the mid-ocean ridges through the lens of geophysics. We'll use open geophysical data (gravity, bathymetry, lithospheric age) and open-source Python tools to try to answer questions like:

  • How do ridges stay so tall?
  • Are they in isostatic equilibrium?
  • Why do ocean basins get deeper as they age?

Along the way, we'll also learn how to translate into code the physical models of the cooling of the lithosphere so that we can compare their predictions with our data. This tutorial is aimed at learners with intermediate level coding knowledge.

We'll assume that learners have an understanding of variables, loops, and functions as well as the basics of the Scipy stack (numpy and matplotlib).


  • Leonardo Uieda - CompGeoLab, University of Liverpool, UK

What you’ll need