Richard Oldham, Irish seismologist and geologist

Richard Oldham, Irish seismologist and geologist

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Richard Oldham. Portrait of Richard Dixon Oldham (1858-1936), the Irish geologist and seismologist who discovered the Earth's core. Oldham spent much of his professional life in India. In 1897 he dis- tinguished between P (primary or pressure) and S (secondary or shear) seismic waves. He also desc- ribed many other characteristics of earthquake activity. In 1906 he discovered that P waves reached points on the opposite side of the Earth from the earthquake epicentre later than expected. He correctly deduced that this was because the Earth had a relatively dense core through which the P waves travelled more slowly than they did through the less dense mantle.

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Keywords: core, discoverer, earth, earth's core, earthquake pioneer, geologist, oldham, pioneer, portraits, richard, richard dixon, seismic wave, seismologist, surname o

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