Geodynamics and Planetary Interiors

Scott D. King

Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

I was inspired to study what happens inside planets in a course I took as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago taught by Frank Richter. I was a graduate student at the seismolab at Caltech, where I modeled subduction zones with Brad Hager. Then I moved to IGPP at Scripps Institution of Oceanography where I tested global seismic tomographic models by estimating how well they fit the geoid, working with Guy Masters. I’ve been really fortunate to work with many great people over the years on a variety of interesting problems.

I began my academic career working on problems related to Earth’s interior but because we learn a lot about Earth by studying other planets, I’ve branched out and published papers on Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Ceres. I am always looking for students who are interested in solving problems and I love sharing what I have learned with others. I’m available to give talks on a number of subjects to K-12 classes, universities, or community groups.

This has always been one of my favorite models, from back in the day when we could only model convection in 2D boxes. The combination of the plate at the surface and the effect of internal heating causes the plate to stop and reverse direction. This particular model was pretty close to a perfect harmonic oscillator. Kind of cool from the point of view of fluid dynamics.