Definition of isostasy in US English:



  • The equilibrium that exists between parts of the earth's crust, which behaves as if it consists of blocks floating on the underlying mantle, rising if material (such as an ice cap) is removed and sinking if material is deposited.

    • ‘This approach is based on assumptions of local isostasy, thermal steady state, and constant density beneath the level of compensation.’
    • ‘We know from isostasy that the crust responds to changing load distributions on its surface by vertical movements.’
    • ‘Three main processes are essential to the understanding of mechanisms of large-scale subsidence and uplift: thermal perturbations of the lithosphere, isostasy (mass balancing), and flexure.’
    • ‘Changes in relative sea level driven by glacial isostasy may have provided an additional mechanism for deglaciation.’
    • ‘The thick portions of crust will attain a higher elevation because of isostasy.’


Late 19th century: from iso- ‘equal’ + Greek stasis ‘station’.