ben holtzman

lamont associate research professor
lamont doherty earth observatory
columbia university
61 rt. 9W
palisades, new york, 10964

email:  benh (at)
office:  845 365 8382


My research combines rock physics, seismology and geodynamics. Through field work, experiments and theory, I have studied the interactions of melt migration and deformation and the influences of melt on the mechanical properties of rocks in the deep Earth. Currently, my work is focused on the interpretation of seismic velocities measured at plate boundaries in terms of both rock fabrics and melt distribution, towards building more detailed images of the structure of plate boundaries and the upper mantle. Such images provide an observational basis for understanding convection and plate motion as the general mechanism for heat extraction from the Earth.
Seismic Sound Lab
Sounds of Seismology (old site)
Some illustrations

Seeking Ph.D. students (posted Nov. 4, 2013):

I am open to taking on a PhD student and have funding for the initial 2-3 years. Projects would entail studies of the rheological properties of rocks (mineral and rock physics) across the wide range of thermodynamic conditions in plate boundaries from the seismogenic zone to the sources of melting in the asthenosphere. Several of my projects involve close collaboration with observational seismologists working on upper mantle structure in actively deforming plate boundaries. Other projects involve more detailed study of deformation processes in experiments and nature, involving close collaboration with experimentalists and theoretical mechanicians. While I mostly now work on developing the analytical tools for interpretation of seismic measurements and of deformation experiments and your projects would be part of these efforts, we would build an observational aspect to your thesis project, as observational skills are critical for building intuition for natural processes. The observational aspect of your project could range from using sound to study seismic processes to using electron microscopes to study textures in deformed rocks. It is likely that your thesis would partly involve collaboration on both observational and theoretical/analytical aspects of a problem, but the design of the problem would take form as your interests develop over the first two years.

Some Recent papers

[13] D. S. H. King, B.K. Holtzman and D. L. Kohlstedt, ``An experimental investigation of the interactions between reaction-driven and stress-driven melt segregation: 2. Disaggregation at high melt fraction'', article 2011GC003685, Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Geosystems vol. 12, Q12020, 12 pp., doi:10.1029/2011GC003685, Dec. 2011.
PDF from AGU

[12] D. S. H. King, B.K. Holtzman and D. L. Kohlstedt, ``An experimental investigation of the interactions between reaction-driven and stress-driven melt segregation: 2. Application to mantle melt ex- traction'', article 2011GC003684, Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Geosystems vol. 12, Q12019, 16 pp., doi:10.1029/2011GC003684, Dec. 2011.
PDF from AGU

[11] B.K. Holtzman and J.-M. Kendall, ``Organized Melt, Seismic Anisotropy, and Plate Boundary Lubrication'', article 2010GC003296, Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Geosystems 11, Q0AB06, doi:10.1029/ 2010GC003296, Dec. 2010.
PDF from AGU

[8,9,10] Takei, Y. and B. Holtzman. Viscous constitutive relations of solid-liquid composites in terms of grain boundary contiguity, 1, 2 & 3. Journal of Geophysical Research, 2009
A summary

[7] Kohlstedt, D.L. and B. Holtzman. Shearing Melt Out of the Earth: An Experimentalist's Perspective on the Influence of Deformation on Melt Extraction. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 2009. 37:561-593

[6] B.K. Holtzman and D. L. Kohlstedt. Stress-driven Melt Segregation and Strain Partitioning in Partially Molten Rocks: Effects of Stress and Strain Journal of Petrology 48: 2379-2406. 2007
pdf from J.Pet.

[5] Katz, R. F., M. Spiegelman, and B. Holtzman, (2006) The dynamics of melt and shear localization in partially molten aggregates, Nature, 442, 676--679, doi:10.1038/nature05039.

[4] B.K. Holtzman, D.L. Kohlstedt, J.Phipps Morgan. Viscous Energy Dissipation and Strain Partitioning in Partially Molten Rocks. Journal of Petrology , doi:10.1093/petrology/egi065, 2005
pdf from J.Petrology

[3] J.Phipps Morgan and B.K. Holtzman. Melt transport and deformation of partially molten viscoelastic rocks: the Vug Wave. G^3 (Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems) V. 6, No. 8, 2005

[2] B.K. Holtzman, D.L. Kohlstedt, M.E. Zimmerman, F. Heidelbach, T. Hiraga, and J. Hustoft. Melt segregation and strain partitioning: Implications for seismic anisotropy and mantle flow, Science 301 , p. 1227-1230, August 29, 2003

[1] B. K. Holtzman, M. E. Zimmerman, N. J. Groebner, S. B. Ginsberg, and D. L. Kohlstedt. Stress-driven melt segregation in partially molten rocks. G^3 (Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems), vol. 4, no. 5, May, 2003