Our research explores the structure, dynamics and evolution of the Earth system through a combination of advanced theoretical work, numerical modeling and data analysis. The Earth sciences are defined by long-standing sub-disciplines that are often studied in isolation. Our approach, in contrast, is deeply interdisciplinary. We believe that transformative scientific advances come from research at and across the boundary between these sub-disciplines. In all of our work we are motivated to be, as Walt Whitman once wrote, “loos’d of limits and imaginary lines.”
Our recent work reflects our interdisciplinary philosophy. Members of the group are, for example: using remarkably precise GPS measurements of the solid Earth tides to constrain the buoyancy of massive structures in the deep mantle imaged through seismic tomography; combining state-of-the-art statistical techniques with 20th and 21st century land and satellite based measurements of sea level change to probe ice sheet stability in our progressively warming world; comparing sophisticated numerical simulations of solid-state mantle flow to the geological record to demonstrate that internal convective forces that drive plate tectonics have also played a key role in the long-term evolution of Earth’s climate and topography; extending the mathematics of classical physics to investigate the stability of the rotation axis of the Earth and other terrestrial planets, and rigorously testing suggestions that these planets have undergone cataclysmic reorientations; and investigating how ice age sea level changes impacted the foraging routes of hunter-gatherer societies.
Sometimes the questions we answer are simple to understand – how does sea level change when an ice sheet rapidly collapses? – and sometimes they are complex and technical – how has magnetic coupling between the Earth’s iron core and rocky mantle contributed to the slowing of Earth’s rotation over the last 3 millennia revealed by ancient Babylonian, Chinese, Arab and Greek eclipse records? - but all the questions are driven by a profound curiosity and a desire to resolve enigmas that mark critical events shaping Earth’s history from the early solar system to the modern world.
Our group fosters active collaboration and interactions between undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty. Furthermore, we welcome members with a diverse set of experiences, both in and outside academia. In the past, the group has included members with training in geophysics, mathematics, geology, archeology, physics, engineering, the humanities and the arts. This supportive community broadens the expertise and interests of everyone in the group and the diversity of perspective lies at the heart of our science.