It was evident to me early in my undergraduate career that Earth Science majors had more fun than Physics majors. Better to wander the oceans or deserts than the corridors of some basement lab. Now several times each year I head out across the oceans to toss oceanographic gear into the abyss. Our understanding of the Earth and oceans is primarily driven by improved methods of observation. For this reason, the development of new sensors and techniques has been at the core of my group's efforts.
My current work is primarily in marine geophysics and seismology. We have built a large fleet of ocean bottom seismometers (OBS) to record signals from earthquakes during year long deployments on the deep sea floor. We measure the perturbations to seismic waves from structures within the Earth to study the dynamics of the mantle and crust. The oceanic mantle is the key to understanding the driving forces of plate tectonics including convective processes, the fate of subducting slabs, Earth's hotspots (of which Hawaii and Iceland are the best examples), and the supply of magma to form the oceanic crust beneath ridge crests. We also study the oceanic crust using tomographic methods and man made sources. Tectonic and hydrothermal processes produce earthquakes detected by OBSs and we have even tracked animals within pods of migrating whales using whale song recorded at the seafloor. Other recent work includes mapping magnetic fields to probe temperatures within ridge crest hydrothermal systems and seafloor deformation under wave loading to study magma beneath ridge crests. Pressure gauges deployed in 2007 are monitoring vertical movements of the seafloor caused by volcanism or the movement of magma.
Referenced in the Following News Items: