Lithosphere and Surface Processes

Lithosphere and surface processes (LSP) integrates geological processes ranging in scales from microscopic to global, from fractions of a second to the age of the Earth.Tectonic processes shape the Earth’s surface through interactions among the deep interior, the lithosphere, the hydro-atmosphere, and the biosphere.  Broad diversity of topics within this realm is reflected in the Yale Earth & Planetary Sciences Department by a wide range of research expertise and ongoing projects:

  • Studies of the Earth’s long-term sedimentary record for insights on changing paleo-environments.

  • Studies of modern and ancient orogens link plate tectonics to evolving climate, erosion, and tectonic geomorphology.

  • Studies of crustal-scale fluid flow and metamorphic and igneous petrology constrain the dynamics of plate margins, mountain belts and adjacent sedimentary basins.

  • Studies of plate kinematics include Precambrian continental reconstructions and large-scale translations in orogenic belts (e.g., Baja-British Columbia).

  • Studies of accretion, deformation, and exhumation in convergent orogens provide insights into crustal and upper-mantle processes within subduction zones and collisional mountain belts.

  • Studies of the Earth’s interior tie mantle convection to plate tectonics via theoretical, experimental, and seismological techniques.

LSP at Yale is a global endeavor, with recent projects on all seven continents.  We employ field work, laboratory data collection, experimental studies, and theoretical considerations to solve problems that are interdisciplinary by nature.  Our in-house departmental facilities include a trace element facility with a multi-collector ICP-MS, an electron microprobe, environmental SEMpaleomagnetic laboratory, high-pressure mineral physics laboratory, and broadband seismometer pool.  We routinely collaborate with geochronologists to provide the time dimension in our tectonic studies.

Mark Brandon: structural geology, tectonics of convergent margins and wedges

David Evans: paleomagnetism, continental reconstructions, and kinematics of orogenic belts

Jay Ague: metamorphic petrology, water-rock interaction, chemical mass transfer

Shun Karato: geophysics, experimental deformation of mantle materials

Maureen Long: observational seismology, upper mantle dynamics, subduction zone dynamics and processes

Jeffrey Park: seismology, seismic anisotropy, and mantle flow

David Bercovici: geodynamics, fluid dynamics and mantle flow

Noah Planavsky: connections between the evolution of Earth-system processes, biological innovation, and ecosystem change—foremost in Earth’s early history (Group Webpage)

Alan RooneyGeochronology and radiogenic isotope geochemistry

Lidya Tarhancoevolution of environments and ecosystems, paleoenvironmental controls on fossilization, and the nature of the stratigraphic record