Northwestern Events Calendar


WED@NICO SEMINAR: Suzan van der Lee, NU Earth and Planetary Sciences "Data-Driven Seismic Studies of Earth’s Deep Dynamics"

Suzan van der Lee

When: Wednesday, October 23, 2019
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: Chambers Hall, Lower Level, 600 Foster St, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Meghan Stagl   847.491.2527

Group: Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO)

Category: Academic



Suzan van der Lee - Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University


Data-Driven Seismic Studies of Earth’s Deep Dynamics


The solid Earth is continuously reshaping, which occasionally has catastrophic consequences, such as when earthquakes cause injuries and damage. Earthquakes typically represent sudden shear dislocations along faults in the Earth's crust, which facilitate the motion of tectonic plates, for example. During faulting, earthquakes excite seismic waves that radiate throughout the Earth and not only shake the Earth's nearby surface, but also carry information about the earthquake's specific faulting mechanism as well as about physical properties of parts of the Earth's interior that the waves propagated through. Extracting this information from hundreds to thousands of time-dependent recordings of these seismic waves involves various types of data science, which intersect with methods used in medicine and materials science for non-destructive testing. Here, we focus primarily on utilizing data science to extract information on the heterogeneous structure inside the Earth's upper mantle, which reflects spatial variations in mantle temperature and composition. This spatial heterogeneity provides important clues to the solid Earth's past, present, and future dynamics. More specifically we look at how seismic tomography reveals past oceans, how former ocean floors help generate volcanism from deep within the mantle, where lava flows get stuck beneath the crust for over a billion years, and how big data and HPC help us map continental structure in three dimensions.

Speaker Bio:

Suzan van der Lee is a Professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Northwestern University and a member of NICO. She strives to unravel, predict, and understand the dynamics of the Earth’s deep interior. To that end her research centers around imaging the interior structure of the Earth’s mantle and crust, using big data sets of time series of seismic ground motion. She earned her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1996, after receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Utrecht, and before completing a postdoctoral position at the Carnegie Institution for Science and working as a faculty member at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (ETH). She has led and participated in numerous big-data analyses and associated seismic data acquisition field experiments in Africa, Europe, and the Americas. She founded NUDS (Northwestern University’s Distributed Seismometers) and is currently the president-elect of the Seismology section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

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