Thorsten W. Becker

Jackson School of Geosciences
The University of Texas at Austin

Field projects


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research: [geodynamics] [seismology] [fieldwork]
While our group's main expertise is in numerical modeling, data collection, be it in the field or the laboratory, is of course crucial for our understanding of planetary dynamics. We collaborate with a range of seismologists, geologists, geodesists, and geochemists to this end, and we are also actively involved in a number of multi-disciplinary experiments across the globe.

I also believe that some experimental and field experience is important even for theoretical geophysicists on a teaching level, and this is reflected in the field component of my Intro Geophysics class, for example.

Some projects and field trips:

  • Mojave broadband experiment: Eastern California Shear Zone fault imaging (2018)

  • Field trip to Kenya rift valley (2018)

    A field trip run by University of Potsdam (Manfred Strecker) and Universita di Roma TRE to study paleoclimate and tectonics of the Kenya rift.
    Kenya 2018
  • Banda Arc project

    We study the Banda Arc (PI: Miller, co-PIs: West and Becker). Field work started in 2014, and and you can follow the current state of field work in Indonesia and East Timor on our blog bandaarc.blogspot.com.
    • Miller, M. S., O'Driscoll, L. J., Roosmawati, N., Harris, C. W., Porritt, R. W., Widiyantoro, S., de Costa, L. T., Soares, E., Becker, T. W., and West A. J.: Banda Arc Experiment - Transitions in the Banda Arc-Australian continental collision. Seismol. Res. Lett., 87, doi:10.1785/0220160124, 2016. (PDF)
  • Sculpting the Earth's topography: insights from modelling deep-surface processes (TopoMod)

    We are involved in the ESF TopoMod project led by Universita di Roma TRE and involving U Amsterdam, GFZ, ETH Zurich, U Durham, U Rennes, ICTJA-CSIC, U Florence, and U Parma. The role of mantle convection in shaping Earth's topography is explored using geology, seismology, and geodynamics. TOPOMOD is a training project designed for a team of early-stage and experienced researchers to investigate and model the origin and evolution of topography of the continents over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.

    • Field trip to the Menderes Massif, Turkey (03/2013)
    • Pictures from Ethiopia field trip March, 2012
      • Sembroni, A., Kiraly, A., Faccenna, C., Funiciello, F., Becker, T. W., Globig, J., and Fernandez, M.: Impact of the lithosphere on dynamic topography: Insights from analogue modeling. Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, 2693-2702, doi:10.1002/2017GL072668, 2017. (PDF)
      • Sembroni, A., Faccenna, C., Becker, T. W., Molin, P., and Bekele, A.: Long-term, deep mantle support of the Ethiopia-Yemen plateau. Tectonics, 35, 469-488, doi:10.1002/2015TC004000, 2016. (PDF)
      • Faccenna, C., Becker, T. W., Jolivet, L., and Keskin, M.: Mantle convection in the Middle East: Reconciling Afar upwelling, Arabia indentation and Aegean trench rollback. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 375, 254-269, 2013. (PDF)
  • Geodesy field work in Baja California (02/2012)

    A GPS survey in collaboration with Rocco Malservisi of Florida University.

  • Program to Investigate Convective Alboran Sea System Overturn (PICASSO)

    PICASSO was an NSF-Continental Dynamics project on the subduction and delamination underneath the Alboran domain involving field work in Spain and Morocco. A collaboration involving US institutions (Rice, University of Oregon, USC, and Woods Hole) and a number of Moroccan and European collaborators.

    Pictures from
    • Main PICASSO project web page
    • Conference presentation summarizing some of the USC led findings:
      • Miller, M. S.: Pockets, conduits, channels, and plumes: links to volcanism and orogeny in the western Meditteranean. Presentation at CIDER 2016, (video)
    • Geodynamics group project publications
      • Sun, D., Miller, M. S., Holt, A. F., and Becker, T. W.: Hot upwelling conduit beneath the Atlas Mountains, Morocco. Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 8037-8044, doi:10.1002/2014GL061884, 2014. (PDF, supp. mat.)
      • Faccenna, C., Becker, T. W., Auer, L., Billi, A., Boschi, L., Brun, J.-P., Capitanio, F. A., Funiciello, F., Horvath, F., Jolivet, L., Piromallo, C., Royden, L., Rossetti, F., and Serpelloni, E.: Mantle dynamics in the Mediterranean. Rev. Geophys., 52, doi:10.1002/2013RG000444, 2014. (PDF)
      • Miller, M. S. and Becker, T. W.: Reactivated lithospheric-scale discontinuities localize dynamic uplift of the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. Geology, doi:10.1130/G34959, 2014. (PDF)
        • Miller, M. S. and Becker, T. W.: Reactivated lithospheric-scale discontinuities localize dynamic uplift of the Moroccan Atlas Mountains: Comment - Reply. Geology, 42, 338, 2014. (PDF)
        • Nature Geoscience highlight by Whitchuch
      • Alpert, L. A., Miller, M. S., Becker, T. W., and Allam, A. A.: Structure beneath the Alboran from geodynamic flow models and seismic anisotropy. J. Geophys. Res., 118, 4265--4277, doi:10.1002/jgrb.50309, 2013. (PDF)
      • Faccenna, C., Becker, T. W., Jolivet, L., and Keskin, M.: Mantle convection in the Middle East: Reconciling Afar upwelling, Arabia indentation and Aegean trench rollback. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 375, 254-269, 2013. (PDF)
      • Miller, M. S., Allam, A. A., Becker, T. W., Di Leo, J., and Wookey, J.: Constraints on the geodynamic evolution of the westernmost Mediterranean and northwestern Africa from shear wave splitting analysis. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 375, 234-243, 2013. (PDF)
      • Becker, T. W. and Faccenna, C.: Mantle conveyor beneath the Tethyan collisional belt. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 310, 453-461, 2011. (PDF)
      • Faccenna, C. and Becker, T. W.: Shaping mobile belts by small-scale convection. Nature, 465, 602-605, 2010. (PDF)
  • Multidisciplinary Experiment for Dynamic Understanding of Subduction under the Aegean (MEDUSA)

    MEDUSA was an NSF-Continental Dynamics funded multi-disciplinary project involving passive seismological imaging of the Hellenic trench and geodynamic modeling of Mediterranean dynamics. A collaboration between MIT, USC, the University of Athens, Universita di Roma TRE, IPG Paris, INGV Rome, and the National Observatory of Athens.
    • Becker, T. W. and Faccenna, C.: Mantle conveyor beneath the Tethyan collisional belt. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 310, 453-461, 2011. (PDF)
    • Faccenna, C. and Becker, T. W.: Shaping mobile belts by small-scale convection. Nature, 465, 602-605, 2010. (PDF)
  • GEOL440 Geophysics class

  • Death Valley field trip, Spring 2005

  • Mount Etna field trip, June 2005


[news] [teaching] [group] [publications] [CV] [downloads] [contact]
research: [geodynamics] [seismology] [fieldwork]
Updated: December 13, 2018. (c) JSG Geodynamics, 2018.