Research interests: seismology, tectonics, subduction zones, slab behavior, mantle dynamics, magmatic systems

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 from the slab to the surface, 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 or have worked 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 Magmatic Systems

The character of the crustal plumbing systems of arc volcanoes is critically important to the processes that determine volcanic eruption style, crustal magma storage, and arc variability, but they 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 work on imaging these systems through the development and application of new techniques that circumvent these challenges. Download the RFTomo code and tomography model IFM1_S_2020 for Cleveland Volcano.

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

Subduction of the Nazca slab beneath South America influences a number of geologic features of the South American continent ranging from the generation of great earthquakes along the trench to the uplift of the Andes to the diverse active volcanism along the continent's margin. I work on imaging the geometry and characteristics of the subducted Nazca slab to elucidate the long term tectonic and geodynamic evolution of the subduction zone and ultimately how we can explain the variability in all of those tectonic features over space and time. Download tomography models SAM4_P_2017 and SAM5_P_2019 and our most recent 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

The eastern Mediterranean hosts one of the most complex tectonic environments on Earth, with the convergence of four independent plates, subduction of the world's oldest oceanic crust transitioning into continental subduction, and sporadic intraplate volcanism. This complex tectonic framework is deeply related to mantle structure and processes. I work to image the mantle structure throughout the eastern Mediterranean region to infer how this unique environment formed and continues to evolve. 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, leading to a variety of proposed consequences for mantle dynamics and geology. However, it remains a challenge to systematically connect such features to their observable expressions so this remains an ongoing field of research. I have worked with a diverse team of researchers on observing the consequences of tearing through analogue subduction models of silicon putty and glucose syrup and continue to work on imaging such features in subduction zones around the globe to understand where they occur, why they form, and what happens after they form.

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

Slab2 - Global Slab Modeling

Models of slab geometry are useful for a variety of applications ranging from megathrust rupture models to tectonic reconstructions and beyond, making a systematic, global collection an important product for the earth science community. I worked with the Slab2 team at the United States Geological Survey to develop an automated, comprehensive software for creating and updating such models and continue to work on methods for refining slab models in global subduction zones, including through updated mantle tomography models. Download the TomoSlab code or the full Slab2 code base.