I apply heat and mass transfer to physical processes within the Earth. I am currently studying convection at the base of the lithosphere and the interaction of the lithosphere with mantle plume material. Hot plume material locally thins the lithosphere and ponds within preexisting regions of thin lithosphere. I am also investigating the microphysics of friction. I am currently applying the results to nonlinear attenuation and ground damage by strong seismic waves. I am currently considering pre-photosynthetic sources of energy for life (like hydrogen from serpentine and methanogenesis) and the effects of photosynthetic ecology on surface and tectonic processes.
I teach Geophysics 150. It is a beginning class for geophysics students and a summary class for geology majors. I vary the content depending on the clientele. I teach Geophysics 25 on planetary habitability. I will revamp the class to fit in the I-Earth sequence. I am actively involved in the crustal, stress, and earthquake seminars.
2008 Wollaston Medal, Geological Society of London; Election, National Academy of Sciences (1999); Walter H. Bucher Medal, American Geophysical Union (1998); Wegener Medal, European Union of Geosciences (1997); fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993); George P. Woollard Award, Geological Society of America (1991); fellow, Geological Society of America (1984); James B. Macelwane Award (1980); fellow, American Geophysical Union (1980)
Physics of large-scale processes in the Earth