William H. Menke

Earth and Environmental Sciences
Seismology Geology and Tectonophysics
203 Seismology
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
(845) 304-5381
(845) 365-8150
Fields of interest: 
seismology, volcanology, data analysis, inverse theory

A few years ago I stood on still-warm aa lava recently erupted from a volcanic fissure in Iceland. Somehow that fissure, and others like it along the earth's ridge axes, are responsible for making two-thirds of the earth's crust, including almost all the Atlantic Ocean's floor. Standing on a fissure, I can't see how that process happens. Crustal formation starts 100 km under my feet, well below the depth to which informed speculation based on field geology can penetrate.

Hence, I rely mainly on seismic tomography techniques that form images of earth's deep interior in much the same way that physicians' CAT scanners probe the human body.

I have applied tomographic imaging techniques to ridge axes and volcanoes in Iceland, fault systems in California, and mountains in the Himalayas. I also have a long-standing interest in improving and extending data analysis techniques that underlie interpreting modern digital data. I am always asking whether we can make a new type of measurement - or process standard measurements in a novel way - to improve images of earth structures.

Some of projects include:

  • Earthquake Location Methodology ( details )
  • Raytracing & 3D Tomography ( details )
  • Seismic Anisotropy ( details )
  • Magma Chambers along the Juan de Fuca Ridge ( details )



List of degrees from highest to lowest:
Columbia Univeristy
B.S., M.S.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Honors & Awards: 
Presidential Young Investigator 1986
Fellow of the American Geophysical Union 1992
Advisor List: 
Selected Publications: 
The cross-convolution method for interpreting SKS splitting observations, with application to one and two-layer anisotropic earth models, Menke, W.; Levin, V. , Geophysical Journal International, Aug, Volume 154, Issue 2, p.379-392, (2003)

Magma storage beneath axial volcano on the Juan de Fuca mid-ocean ridge, West, M.; Menke, W.; Tolstoy, M.; Webb, S.; Sohn, R. , Nature, Oct 25, Volume 413, Issue 6858, p.833-836, (2001)