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Lamont Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
Adjunct Professor
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Associate Director-Marine Geology and Geophysics
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
305B Oceanography
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
Phone: 
(845) 365-8592
Fax: 
(845) 365-8156

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Fields of interest: 
Development of theoretical models for processes that affect the solid earth.

My research interests lie in developing theoretical models for processes that affect the solid earth. Recently, my students and I have been creating computer models of mantle upwelling in the region of melting below a mid-ocean ridge and investigating how it leads to the structural and topographic features we observe on ridges.

We are also trying to understand how and why extension of the earth's crust occurs in such a wide variety of ways. In particular, I am interested in the effect of a weak lower crust on patterns of deformation that occur at the surface. For example, a weak lower crust may allow active normal faulting in the core of a mountain belt while thrusting occurs in the outer parts of the belt. My interests extend to deformation patterns and topography on other planets such as Venus, which has a very different style of tectonics than is seen on earth.

I believe theorists need to get out and see where the data come from. In recent years I have been fortunate to participate in such diverse field work as collecting rocksamples for radiometric dating in Egypt and in the Mojave Desert, diving on the Reykjanes Mid-Ocean Ridge in a Russian submersible, and helping with GPS surveys on Iceland.

Education
List of degrees from highest to lowest:
Ph.D.
MIT
1984
Bachelor of Science
William & Mary
1978

Lamont Projects:

Referenced in the Following News Items:

Featured in the Following Videos:

Selected Publications:

How Much Magma is required to rift a continent? Bialas, R; Buck, W R; Qin, R Earth Planet Sci Lett Volume: 292 p.: 68-78 (2010)
Constraints on asthenospheric flow from the depths of oceanic spreading centers: The East Pacific Rise and the Australian-Antarctic Discordance Buck, W R; Small, C; Ryan W F B Geochem Geophys Geosyst Volume: 10 p.: 101029/2009GC002373 (2009)
September 2005 mega-dike emplacement in the Manda-Harraro nascent oceanic rift (Afar depression) Ayele, A; Keir, D: Ebinger, C; Wright, T J; Stuart, G W; Buck, W R; Jacques, E; Ogubazghi, G; Sholan, J Geophys Res Letts Volume: 36 p.: 101029/2009GL039605 (2009)
The role of sedimentation in the development of rifts; Applications to the Gulf of California Bialas, R; Buck, W R Tectonics Volume: 28 p.: 101029/2008TC002394 (2009)
Constraints on asthenospheric flow from the deepest spreading centers Buck, W R; Small, C; Ryan, W B F G-cubed Volume: 10 Issue: n9 p.: 1-23 (2009)
Why meter-wide dikes at oceanic spreading centers? Qin, R.; Buck, W. R. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Jan 30 Volume: 265 Issue: 3-4 p.: 466-474 (2008) DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2007.10.044
Capturing magma intrusion and faulting processes during continental rupture: seismicity of the Dabbahu (Afar) rift Ebinger, C. J.; Keir, D.; Ayele, A.; Calais, E.; Wright, T. J.; Belachew, M.; Hammond, J. O. S.; Campbell, E.; Buck, W. R. Geophysical Journal International Sep Volume: 174 Issue: 3 p.: 1138-1152 (2008) DOI 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2008.03877.x
Role of melt supply in oceanic detachment faulting and formation of megamullions Tucholke, B. E.; Behn, M. D.; Buck, W. R.; Lin, J. Geology Jun Volume: 36 Issue: 6 p.: 455-458 (2008) Doi 10.1130/G24639a.1
Plateau collapse model for the transantarctic mountains-west Antarctic rift system: Insights from numerical experiments Bialas, R. W.; Buck, W. R.; Studinger, M.; Fitzgerald, P. G. Geology Aug Volume: 35 Issue: 8 p.: 687-690 (2007)
Control of rheological stratification on rifting geometry: a symmetric model resolving the upper plate paradox Nagel, T. J.; Buck, W. R. International Journal of Earth Sciences Nov Volume: 96 Issue: 6 p.: 1047-1057 (2007) DOI 10.1007/s00531-007-0195-x
Comment on "Mechanics of tidally driven fractures in Europa's ice shell" by S. Lee, R.T. Pappalardo, and N.C. Makris [2005. Icarus 177, 367-379] Qin, R.; Buck, W. R.; Germanovich, L. Icarus Aug Volume: 189 Issue: 2 p.: 595-597 (2007) DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2007.01.013
Channel flow and the development of parallel-dipping normal faults Nagel, T. J.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Aug 24 Volume: 111 Issue: B8 p.: - (2006) Doi 10.1029/2005jb004000
Crustal architecture of the Transantarctic Mountains between the Scott and Reedy Glacier region and South Pole from aerogeophysical data Studinger, M.; Bell, R. E.; Fitzgerald, P. G.; Buck, W. R. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Oct 15 Volume: 250 Issue: 1-2 p.: 182-199 (2006) DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2006.07.035
Flexing is not stretching: An analogue study of flexure-induced fault populations Supak, S.; Bohnenstiehl, D. R.; Buck, W. R. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Jun 15 Volume: 246 Issue: 1-2 p.: 125-137 (2006) DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2006.03.028
The rise and fall of axial highs during ridge jumps Shah, A. K.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Aug 17 Volume: 111 Issue: B8 p.: - (2006) Doi 10.1029/2005jb003657
Tectonic stress and magma chamber size as controls on dike propagation: Constraints from the 1975-1984 Krafla rifting episode Buck, W. R.; Einarsson, P.; Brandsdottir, B. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Dec 9 Volume: 111 Issue: B12 p.: - (2006) Doi 10.1029/2005jb003879
Topographic controls on dike injection in volcanic rift zones Behn, M. D.; Buck, W. R.; Sacks, I. S. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Jun 30 Volume: 246 Issue: 3-4 p.: 188-196 (2006) DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2006.04.005
Effect of lithospheric geometry on rift valley relief Qin, R.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Mar 19 Volume: 110 Issue: B3 p.: - (2005) Doi 10.1029/2004jb003411
Flexural uplift of a lithospheric slab near the Vema transform (Central Atlantic): Timing and mechanisms Bonatti, E.; Brunelli, D.; Buck, W. R.; Cipriani, A.; Fabretti, P.; Ferrante, V.; Gasperini, L.; Ligi, M. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Dec 15 Volume: 240 Issue: 3-4 p.: 642-655 (2005) DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2005.10.010
Modes of faulting at mid-ocean ridges Buck, W. R.; Lavier, L. L.; Poliakov, A. N. B. Nature Apr 7 Volume: 434 Issue: 7034 p.: 719-723 (2005) Doi 10.1038/Nature03358
Sub-ice geology inland of the Transantarctic Mountains in light of new aerogeophysical data Studinger, M.; Bell, R. E.; Buck, W. R.; Karner, G. D.; Blankenship, D. D. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Apr 15 Volume: 220 Issue: 3-4 p.: 391-408 (2004) Doi 10.1016/S0012-821x(04)00066-4
Symmetric alternative to asymmetric rifting models Nagel, T. J.; Buck, W. R. Geology Nov Volume: 32 Issue: 11 p.: 937-940 (2004) Doi 10.1130/G20785.1
A numerical model of lithospheric extension producing fault-bounded basins and ranges Buck, W. R.; Lavier, L. L.; Babeyko, A. International Geology Review Aug Volume: 45 Issue: 8 p.: 712-723 (2003)
Plate bending stresses at axial highs, and implications for faulting behavior Shah, A. K.; Buck, W. R. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Jun 30 Volume: 211 Issue: 3-4 p.: 343-356 (2003) Doi 10.1016/S0012-821x(03)00187-0
Half graben versus large-offset low-angle normal fault: Importance of keeping cool during normal faulting Lavier, L. L.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Jun Volume: 107 Issue: B6 p.: - (2002) Doi 10.1029/2001jb000513
Accretional curvature of lithosphere at magmatic spreading centers and the flexural support of axial highs Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Mar 10 Volume: 106 Issue: B3 p.: 3953-3960 (2001)
Causes for axial high topography at mid-ocean ridges and the role of crustal thermal structure Shah, A. K.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Dec 10 Volume: 106 Issue: B12 p.: 30865-30879 (2001)
Near-axis subsidence rates, hydrothermal circulation, and thermal structure of mid-ocean ridge crests Cochran, J. R.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Sep 10 Volume: 106 Issue: B9 p.: 19233-19258 (2001)
Factors controlling normal fault offset in an ideal brittle layer Lavier, L. L.; Buck, W. R.; Poliakov, A. N. B. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Oct 10 Volume: 105 Issue: B10 p.: 23431-23442 (2000)
The dynamics of extensional sedimentary basins: constraints from subsidence inversion - Discussion Buck, W. R.; White, N.; Gallagher, K.; Watts, A. B.; McKenzie, D.; Kusznir, T.; Geli, L. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series a-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences Apr 15 Volume: 357 Issue: 1753 p.: 830-834 (1999)
How to make a rift wide Buck, W. R.; Lavier, L. L.; Poliakov, A. N. B. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series a-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences Apr 15 Volume: 357 Issue: 1753 p.: 671-690 (1999)
Self-consistent rolling-hinge model for the evolution of large-offset low-angle normal faults Lavier, L. L.; Buck, W. R.; Poliakov, A. N. B. Geology Dec Volume: 27 Issue: 12 p.: 1127-1130 (1999)
Abyssal hills formed by stretching oceanic lithosphere Buck, W. R.; Poliakov, A. N. B. Nature Mar 19 Volume: 392 Issue: 6673 p.: 272-275 (1998)
Styles of extensional decoupling Hopper, J. R.; Buck, W. R. Geology Aug Volume: 26 Issue: 8 p.: 699-702 (1998)
Bending thin lithosphere causes localized 'snapping' and not distributed 'crunching': Implications for abyssal hill formation Buck, W. R. Geophysical Research Letters Oct 15 Volume: 24 Issue: 20 p.: 2531-2534 (1997)
Controls on extrusion at mid-ocean ridges Buck, W. R.; Carbotte, S. M.; Mutter, C. Geology Oct Volume: 25 Issue: 10 p.: 935-938 (1997)
Stress-field rotation and rooted detachment faults: A Coulomb failure analysis Wills, S.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Sep 10 Volume: 102 Issue: B9 p.: 20503-20514 (1997)
The effect of lower crustal flow on continental extension and passive margin formation. Hopper, J. R.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Sep 10 Volume: 101 Issue: B9 p.: 20175-20194 (1996)
Analog Model of Gravitational Collapse and Surface Extension during Continental Convergence Buck, W. R.; Sokoutis, D. Nature Jun 30 Volume: 369 Issue: 6483 p.: 737-740 (1994)
Some Theoretical Predictions on the Relationships among Spreading Rate, Mantle Temperature, and Crustal Thickness Su, W. S.; Mutter, C. Z.; Mutter, J. C.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Feb 10 Volume: 99 Issue: B2 p.: 3215-3227 (1994)
Buoyancy Effects on Mantle Flow under Midocean Ridges Su, W. S.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Jul 10 Volume: 98 Issue: B7 p.: 12191-12205 (1993)
Effect of Lithospheric Thickness on the Formation of High-Angle and Low-Angle Normal Faults Buck, W. R. Geology Oct Volume: 21 Issue: 10 p.: 933-936 (1993)
The Initiation of Rifting at Constant Tectonic Force - Role of Diffusion Creep Hopper, J. R.; Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Sep 10 Volume: 98 Issue: B9 p.: 16213-16221 (1993)
Crustal Control of Ridge Segmentation Inferred from Observations of the Reykjanes Ridge Bell, R. E.; Buck, W. R. Nature Jun 18 Volume: 357 Issue: 6379 p.: 583-586 (1992)
Global Decoupling of Crust and Mantle - Implications for Topography, Geoid and Mantle Viscosity on Venus Buck, W. R. Geophysical Research Letters Nov 3 Volume: 19 Issue: 21 p.: 2111-2114 (1992)
Modes of Continental Lithospheric Extension Buck, W. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Nov 10 Volume: 96 Issue: B12 p.: 20161-20178 (1991)
Fission-Track Analysis of Basement Apatites at the Western Margin of the Gulf-of-Suez Rift, Egypt - Evidence for Synchroneity of Uplift and Subsidence Omar, G. I.; Steckler, M. S.; Buck, W. R.; Kohn, B. P. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Sep Volume: 94 Issue: 3-4 p.: 316-328 (1989)
Focused Mantle Upwelling Below Mid-Ocean Ridges Due to Feedback between Viscosity and Melting Buck, W. R.; Su, W. S. Geophysical Research Letters Jul Volume: 16 Issue: 7 p.: 641-644 (1989)
Convective Partial Melting .1. A Model for the Formation of Thick Basaltic Sequences during the Initiation of Spreading Mutter, J. C.; Buck, W. R.; Zehnder, C. M. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth and Planets Feb 10 Volume: 93 Issue: B2 p.: 1031-1048 (1988)
Flexural Rotation of Normal Faults Buck, W. R. Tectonics Oct Volume: 7 Issue: 5 p.: 959-973 (1988)
Thermal Consequences of Lithospheric Extension - Pure and Simple Buck, W. R.; Martinez, F.; Steckler, M. S.; Cochran, J. R. Tectonics Apr Volume: 7 Issue: 2 p.: 213-234 (1988)
Uplift and Subsidence of the Suez Rift - Constraints from Fission-Track Analysis and Sediment Backstripping Steckler, M. S.; Omar, G. I.; Buck, W. R. Aapg Bulletin-American Association of Petroleum Geologists Aug Volume: 72 Issue: 8 p.: 1025-1025 (1988)
Analysis of the Cooling of a Variable-Viscosity Fluid with Applications to the Earth Buck, W. R. Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society May Volume: 89 Issue: 2 p.: 549-577 (1987)