The Earth’s Variable Rotation: Some Geophysical Causes

  • Kurt Lambeck
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 154)


The Earth’s variable rotation, its departures from what it would be if it were a rigid body rotating in isolation, has occupied the interest of astronomers and geophysicists for more than 100 years. The reason for this is quite clear when one becomes aware of the range of processes that perturb the Earth from uniform rotation (Figure 1). A complete understanding of the driving mechanisms requires a study of the deformation of the solid Earth, of fluid motions in the core and of the magnetic field, of the mass redistributions and motions within the oceans and atmosphere, and of the interactions between the solid and fluid regions of the planet. The discussion of evidence for the variable rotation includes the examination of not only a variety of optical telescope evidence that goes back some 300 years, but also of historical records of lunar and solar eclipses, and planetary occultations and conjunctions for perhaps the past three millenia. The geological record, in the form of fossil growth rhythms in organisms such as corals, bivals or brachiopods or as cyclic organic growth and sediment sequences such as stromatolites or banded iron formations, extend, albeit with very considerable uncertainty, the record back through Phanerozoic time and into the Precambrian. To this variety of measurement techniques now has to be added the new methods derived from the space-oriented technological developments of the past few decades.


Excitation Function Polar Motion Lower Mantle Ocean Tide Inertia Tensor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt Lambeck
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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