Encyclopedia of Geodesy

Living Edition
| Editors: Erik Grafarend

Isostasy – Geodesy

  • Lars E. SjöbergEmail author
  • Mohammad Bagherbandi
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02370-0_111-1


Isostasy (Greek isos “equal,” stasis “stand still”) is a term in geology, geophysics, and geodesy to describe the state of mass balance (equilibrium) between the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. It describes a condition to which the mantle tends to balance the mass of the crust in the absence of external forces.


The term isostasy was proposed in 1889 by the American geologist C. Dutton, but the first idea of mass balancing of the Earth’s upper layer goes back to Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519). The term means that the Earth’s topographic mass is balanced (mass conservation) in one way or another, so that at a certain depth the pressure is hydrostatic. Isostasyis an alternative view of Archimedes’ principle of hydrostatic equilibrium . According to this principle, a floating body displaces its own weight. A light mountain chain can be compared with an iceberg or a cork floating in water or in proper term floating on the denser underlying mantle. When a certain...

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References and Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Geodesy and Satellite PositioningRoyal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Industrial Development, IT and Land ManagementUniversity of GävleGävleSweden