Research

Research interests: Seismology, Tectonics, Subduction zones, Slab behavior, Mantle dynamics

My research focuses on the structure and behavior of subducting slabs in the mantle and how slabs interact with the surrounding mantle and the overriding plate. I primarily use seismological techniques to image the velocity structure of subduction zones and see the details of modern slab geometry, but more broadly I am interested in using any technique available to learn more about subduction systems.

See some of the projects I’m working on:

A three-dimensional representation of seismic phase delay times measured at Cleveland volcano. It looks like there may be a hot column of crust under the volcano.

Imaging of Arc Systems

The crustal plumbing systems of arc volcanoes are notoriously difficult to image, limited by a lack of deep crustal earthquakes and the difficulty of deploying broad, dense seismic networks around them. I am working on a new technique to circumvent these challenges so that we can learn about the deep crustal structure beneath arc volcanoes.

A model of the Nazca slab from the surface (red) into the lower mantle (purple). Check out that big gap beneath Argentina!

Geometry and Dynamics of the Nazca Slab

Over >25 years of seismic exploration, more than a thousand seismic stations have been deployed across South America. We compile this vast dataset to provide comprehensive seismic images of the subducting Nazca slab, which we use to infer its role in Andean evolution. Download tomography models SAM4_P_2017 and SAM5_P_2019 and our slab model, nazca_SAM5_P_2019.

Our interpretation of the African/Arabian slab structure beneath Anatolia. That change in character from west to east may also represent the temporal evolution of dying slab.

Geodynamic Evolution of Anatolia

I am part of the CD-CAT group, a broad interdisciplinary collection of scientists interested in unraveling the complex tectonic and geodynamic history of the Anatolian continent. I provide detailed images of the subducting African-Arabian lithosphere as it descends to the lower mantle - a key constraint for elucidating the magmatic and geologic observations at the surface. Download tomography model ANA2_P_2018.

Set-up for analogue subduction models with a silicon putty “plate” (black) and a glucose syrup “mantle” (yellow). Figure courtesy of Ági Király.

Modeling Slab Hole Dynamics

Tears and gaps in slabs more and more often seem to be prevalent around the globe and back in time, but which of these tears and gaps can/should we see in the geologic record? At the 2017 CIDER program, a number of us participants shared the same question. To that end, we ran a series of analogue subduction models using silicon putty and glucose syrup to investigate how the “mantle” reacts to slab gaps of varying sizes.

Model of the Juan de Fuca/Gorda slabs beneath the western United States using the TomoSlab software.

Slab2 - Global Slab Modeling

The Slab1.0 model of global slab geometries is widely used in applications ranging from great earthquake rupture mechanisms to mantle dynamics models. We’ve now updated and expanded on these models utilizing a grid-based search algorithm and incorporating data from teleseismic tomography models. Download the TomoSlab code or the full Slab2 code base.