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Earthquake seismology has largely been responsible for defining the location of major plate boundaries and of the dip of subduction zones down to depths of about 700 kilometres at those boundaries.In other subdisciplines of geophysics, gravimetric techniques are used to determine the shape and size of underground structures; electrical methods help to locate a variety of mineral deposits that tend to be good conductors of electricity; and paleomagnetism has played the principal role in tracking the drift of continents.

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(For further examples, Moon, for example, provided scientists with firsthand information on lunar geology, including observations on such features as meteorite craters that are relatively rare on Earth.

The allied field of geophysics has several subdisciplines, which make use of different instrumental techniques.

Seismology, for example, involves the exploration of the Earth’s deep structure through the detailed analysis of recordings of elastic waves generated by earthquakes and man-made explosions.

This in turn helps in interpreting the mode of formation and the depositional environment of sedimentary rocks.

Thus the discipline of geomorphology is fundamental to the uniformitarian approach to the Earth sciences according to which the present is the key to the past.

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