Research Areas

Theoretical and Computational Seismology
Theoretical and Computational Seismology provides a solid foundation upon which seismic observations are interpreted. Research in this area includes the development of finite-frequency sensitivity kernels for various waves and wave phenomena, including the kernels for head waves, cross-dependence of P and S waveforms and velocities, utility of three-component records, and effects of discontinuity and surface topography. Simulations of waves in 3D heterogeneous media are carried out on our Beowulf clusters and supercomputers in TeraGrid.

Earth Structure
Discoveries in the interior of the Earth come from observations of seismic waves recorded on or near the surface. We use seismic waves to image the Earth's interior in a way similar to a medical CAT scan. The results provide constraints on the thermal and compositional variations in the crust and mantle. Research topics include mid-ocean ridges, hotspots (Iceland, Hawaii, Azores, Tanzania), the depth of origin of mantle plumes, the crustal and mantle structure beneath Eurasia and Africa, continental collision, and the mantle transition zone.

Fieldwork and Cruises
Shortly after the 2004 Sumatra Earthquake, we participated in an offshore survey near the epicenter of the earthquake and obtained images of seafloor ruptures that caused the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. In collaboration with Chinese Academy of Geosciences, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), University of Houston, and University of Missouri, we are currently carrying out a seismic experiment in the northeast Tibetan plateau to understand the rise and growth of the plateau and its interaction with the surrounding tectonic blocks.

Supported by a grant from the Champlin Foundations, we are adapting a Pressure Recording Inverted Echo Sounder for earthquake and tsunami monitoring.