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 any technique available to study slab dynamics, including analogue and numerical modeling, earthquake locations, and collaborations with geologists.

See some of the projects I’m working on:

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 model SAM4_P_2017.

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.