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It has often been said that geophysics is an umbrella discipline, and that its various and varied fields remained conceptually autonomous even when configured in the mind of a single scientist. However, to what extent were these fields conceptually autonomous? Was there a single accumulation of geophysical knowledge and practices, or rather diverse traditions? Furthermore, what happens when there is a confluence of traditions rather than an independent accumulation of knowledge? Would it make sense then to talk about any conceptual autonomy and compartmentalized fields? This article examines the historical development of a geophysical specialization developed in multinational settings: crustal seismology. Rather than a conglomerate of autonomous fields, the view of geophysics as an intercalated set of inter-disciplinary fields, research schools, programs, and traditions which seem to concur in the same direction, can be applied to a large extent to geophysics of the Earth’s crust. The article shows how these elements interacted and were even transferred from one place to another. It concludes with some reflections on the institutional and procedural relations between academic geophysics, physics and geology.
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