1. Historical Introduction to Terrestrial Heat Flow

  1. William H. K. Lee
  1. Edward C. Bullard

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM008p0001

Terrestrial Heat Flow

Terrestrial Heat Flow

How to Cite

Bullard, E. C. (1965) Historical Introduction to Terrestrial Heat Flow, in Terrestrial Heat Flow (ed W. H. K. Lee), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.. doi: 10.1029/GM008p0001

Author Information

  1. Department of Geodesy and Geophysics, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1965

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900087

Online ISBN: 9781118668825



  • Geological structure on heat flow;
  • Terrestrial heat flow;
  • Thermal conductivity;
  • Topography


The first reference to high temperatures within the Earth known to the writer is by J. B. Morin in 1619; there is no known reference to the matter in the works of Agricola. Boyle, in 1671, raised many of the questions discussed in recent work. Little interest was taken in underground temperatures during the 18th century. The subject was energetically pursued by Committees of the British Association in 1868–1883 and 1935–1939. Measurements were first made at sea in 1950. In spite of the existence of about 2000 measurements of heat flow, the temperatures deep within the Earth are still very uncertain. Observations of magnetic variations combined with the study of samples from Moholes may give better estimates.