Inge Lehmann


Inge Lehmann was a prominent Danish seismologist and geophysicist, who made a ground-breaking discovery about the structure of the Earth’s core.


Inge Lehman

Trained in Mathematics at the universities of Copenhagen and Cambridge, Lehmann analysed how energy released from earthquakes travels through the Earth.

While studying data from a large earthquake in New Zealand in 1929, she noticed waves of energy in the Earth’s layers, called seismic waves, were appearing in unexpected locations. She thought that they must have been deflected off of some sort of boundary in the Earth’s core. This led her to propose in 1936 that the Earth’s core is composed of two parts: a solid metal core surrounded by an outer liquid core, overturning the accepted theory of an entirely liquid core.

Despite Lehmann’s success, she recounted how she struggled against the male-dominated research community, once remarking "you should know how many incompetent men I had to compete with in vain." As well being awarded numerous awards and honours for her scientific achievements, a beetle species Globicornis (Hadrotoma) ingelehmannae was named in her honour in 2015.


As picked by...

Aoife de Bhál, Public Engagement Intern