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VIRTUAL GSL Public Lecture - A voyage through the Earth's Deep Interior

11 March 2021
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A voyage through the Earth's Deep Interior 

Sixty years ago, the plate tectonics revolution brought to light the dynamic nature of the earth's interior, with rising hot molten rock forming new crust at mid-ocean ridges and cold, thickened tectonic plates returning to the mantle at so-called subduction zones.  We now understand that plate motions are driven by internal currents of matter that serve to evacuate heat accumulated deep in our planet at the time of its formation, or through persistent decay of radioactive elements scattered within it. However, the precise mechanisms by which these motions interact with plates remains somewhat elusive.

Seismic waves generated by natural earthquakes penetrate deep into the earth's interior, accelerating or decelerating as they propagate, depending on the temperature and composition of the rock masses they encounter, thus illuminating the internal structure of our planet. Global scale seismic imaging allows us to map out, with progressively higher accuracy, the morphology of the slow convective motions within the earth's mantle that drive plate tectonics, ultimately causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.  In this lecture, I will illustrate how state-of-the-art imaging techniques allow us to track the fate of tectonic plates that dive back into the mantle beneath the Pacific "ring of fire", or to follow the paths of deeply rooted hot mantle plumes, as they ascend towards the surface and are expressed there in the form of hotspot volcanism, of which Hawaii and Iceland are prominent examples.


Barbara Romanowicz

Professor of the Graduate School, University of California, Berkeley
Professeur Honoraire, Collège de France, Paris

Born and educated in France, Barbara studied mathematics at the Ecole Normale Supérieure before taking a PhD in Geophysics at the University of Paris 7. Between 1982 and 1990 as a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research she developed GEOSCOPE, a global network of geophysical sensors to study earthquakes and illuminate the structure of the Earth’s interior. In 1991 she was appointed Professor at UC Berkeley and Director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, in which role she helped establish a joint UC Berkeley/US Geological Survey real time earthquake notification system for northern California. More recently, she founded the Cooperative Institute for Dynamic Earth Research (CIDER), which brings together and trains researchers from across the Earth sciences to tackle fundamental questions relating to global geodynamic processes. In 2011, She was appointed to the chair of Physics of the Earth Interior at the Collège de France in Paris, a position she held until her retirement in september 2020.
Among honors received, she was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and to the Académie des Sciences in France in 2013. She is the 2019 recipient of the AGU William Bowie medal and the 2020 recipient of the Geological Society's Wollaston Medal. 


This lecture will be held virtually over Zoom and YouTube live


Please email with any enquiries.


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