6. Review of Heat Flow Data

  1. William H. K. Lee
  1. William H. K. Lee1 and
  2. Seiya Uyeda2

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM008p0087

Terrestrial Heat Flow

Terrestrial Heat Flow

How to Cite

Lee, W. H. K. and Uyeda, S. (1965) Review of Heat Flow Data, in Terrestrial Heat Flow (ed W. H. K. Lee), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.. doi: 10.1029/GM008p0087

Author Information

  1. 1

    Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University Of California, Los Angeles

  2. 2

    Department of Geophysics, Stanford University, Stanford, California

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900087

Online ISBN: 9781118668825



  • Classical method of Gauss;
  • Heat flow data;
  • Jordan's method;
  • Spherical harmonic representation;
  • Statistical method


All available heat flow data (about 2000 observations) are reviewed and analyzed. Statistical methods are used to summarize the data, and numerical techniques are developed to find their essential features. Analysis of nearby and repeated measurements suggests that regional heat flow variations >0.2 μcal/cm2 sec are significant. At the 95% confidence level, the world's mean heat flow is 1.5±10% μcal/cm2 sec, and the average over the continents does not differ significantly from that over the oceans. Heat flow results are well correlated with major geological features. On land, the average and standard deviation of heat flow values are 0.92±0.17 from Precambrian shields, 1.23±0.4 from Paleozoic orogenic areas, 1.54±0.38 from post-Precambrian non-orogenic areas, and 1.92±0.49 from Mesozoic-Cenozoic orogenic areas. At sea, they are 0.99±0.61 from trenches, 1.28±0.53 from basins, and 1.82±1.56 from ridges. On a large scale, a negative correlation between heat flow and gravity is found.