Michael C. Gurnis

Seismological Laboratory 
California Institute of Technology 
Pasadena, California 91125 

Research Interests

Global geodynamics: Mantle convection, plate tectonics and the dynamic coupling between mantle processes and continenetal & sea floor geology. Chemical and thermal evolution of the mantle and crust. Sea-level change and marine geophysics. Computational geophysics: frameworks, finite element analysis, and parallel processing. 


1982: B.S., Geosciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson
1987: Ph.D., Geophysics Australian National University, Canberra.  Thesis: Convective Mixing in the Earth's Mantle

Professional Experience 

1986-1988: Research Fellow in Geophysics, California Institute of Technology
1988-1993: Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences, University of Michigan
1991: Visiting Fellow, Australian National University
1993: Associate Professor of Geological Sciences, University of Michigan
1994-1996: Associate Professor of Geophysics, California Institute of Technology
1995-2003: Associate Director, Seismological Laboratory, Caltech
1996-2005: Professor of Geophysics, California Institute of Technology 
2004-2010: Founding Director, Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics (CIG), Caltech
2005-: John E. and Hazel S. Smits Professor of Geophysics, Caltech
2009-: Director, Seismological Laboratory, Caltech

Honors and Awards 

1989: Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation
1991: Fellow, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
1993: James B. Macelwane Medal, American Geophysical Union
1993: Fellow, American Geophysical Union
1993: Donath Medal (Young Scientist Award), Geological Society of America
1993: Senior Fellow, Geological Society of America
1997: University of Arizona, Geosciences Alumni Achievement Award
2005: John E. and Hazel S. Smits Professorship
2008: Gordon Bell Prize Finalist [Burstedde et al., 2008]
2010: Gordon Bell Prize Finalist [Burstedde et al., 2010]
2012: Allday Endowed Lecturer, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas, Austin
2013: Excellence in Refereeing (Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems), American Geophysical Union
2013: Augustus Love Medal of the European Geosciences Union
2013: Elected Foreign Member, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
2014: Wallace E. Pratt Memorial Award, American Association of Petroleum Geologists

Professional Service 

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Member, Committee for the Study of the Earth's Deep Interior (1994-1999)
Convenor, Chapman Conference on The History and Dynamics of Global Plate Motions(1997)
Member, Publications Committee (1998-2000)
Associate Editor, JGR-Solid Earth (1998-2001)
Associate Editor, G3, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (1999-2004)
Member, Inge Lehmann Medal Committee (2000-2002)
Member, Joint Focus Group Fellows Committee (2013-)
California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN)
Member, Steering Committee (2009-)
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR)
Member, External Review Panel for Earth System Evolution Program (1998)


Member, IRIS USArray Steering Committee (1999-2003)
Member, IRIS USArray Advisory Committee (2004-2006)
Member, EarthScope Steering Committee (ESSC) (2010-2013)
Chair, EarthScope Cyber Infrastructure Subcommittee (ESCISC) (2010-2013)

European Geosciences Union (EGU)

Member, Augustus Love Medal Committee (2013-)

Geological Society of America (GSA)

Editorial Board, Geology (1993-1995).
Member, Arthur L. Day Medal Committee (1999-2002)

Gordon Research Conference (GRC)

Chair, Interior of the Earth (1998)

Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP)

U.S. Member, Science Steering and Evaluation Panel (2006-2009)


Member, MARGINS Steering Committee (2008-2010)
Member, GeoPRISMS Steering and Oversight Committee (2010-2011)

National Research Council (NRC)

Member, Geodynamics of Sedimentary Basins Panel (1995-1997)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Member, Advisory Panel on Collaborative Mathematical and Geosciences (2002)
Member, Advisory Panel on Information Technology Research, Geosciences (2003)
Member, Task Group on Earth Science Cyberinfrastructure (2003-2004)
Member, Site Visit Panel for Information Technology Research (2004)
Member, Office of Cyber Infrastructure (OCI), Task Force on Grand Challenge (2009-2011)

University of Oslo, Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED)

Member, Scientific Advisory Board (2012-)

Field and Marine Experience:

Jan.-Feb. 2002. Fiordland, New Zealand. Sample collection by boat (M/Y Huia) and helicopter for thermochnronology.
Nov. 9-Dec. 6, 2002. NBP0207 (R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer). Port Hueneme, CA to Lyttleton, NZ. Underway geophysics/SCS. Focus survey of Kermadec Trench.
May 22-June 12, 2003. NBP0304, Chief Scientist R/V N. B. Palmer. Lyttleton, NZ to Honolulu, HI. Underway geophysics. Target, survey of Kermadec Trench.

Advisors and Recent Collaborators:

Geoffrey F. Davies (Ph.D. advisor), Bradford H. Hager (Post Doc advisor), B. Aagaard (USGS); B. Appelbe (VPAC, Australia); M. I. Billen (U. C. Davis); G. Biros (Penn); J. Bloxham (Harvard); O. Ghattas (Texas); B. H. Hager (MIT); M. House (PCC); G. Ito (Hawaii); P. J. J. Kamp (Univ. Waikato, NZ); L. Kellogg (U.C. Davis); L. Lavier (UTIG); L. Montesi (Maryland); L. Moresi (Monash, Australia); R. D. Müller (Sydney, Australia); O. Ghattas (U. Texas), S. Quenette (VPAC, Australia); X. Song (UIUC); M. Spiegelman (LDEO); R. Sutherland (GNS, NZ); T. Torsvik (Oslo); H. J. Van Avendonk (UTIG); P. van Keken (Michigan); S. Willett (ETH); C. Williams (RPI); M. E. Wysession (Wash. U.); S. Zhong (Colorado).

Students and Post Docs:

See: Current and former students and post-docs