Scott King


My research focuses on a quantitative understanding of plate tectonics, the fundamental paradigm of modern Earth science. Specifically, I study what happens when tectonic plates collide using numerical models, comparing the topography, gravity, and seismic velocity predicted from the calculations with observations from the Earth. The goal is to understand the connection between deformation at the Earth's surface, as manifest by plate motions, and heat flow from the interior of the Earth. These models push the limits of computing and my work also involves improving the computational methods for viscous flow calculations. Three-dimensional calculations of convection in the interior of the Earth and other planets require significantly more computational resources than will be available in the foreseeable future. I have worked on the evolution of the planet Mercury, specifically focusing on the pattern of compressive features and the time evolution of internal deformation. More recently I have been working on the thermal and volcanic evolution of Venus and Mars. I have also been selected as a guest investigator for the Dawn at Ceres Mission.


Ph.D. Geophysics, Caltech, 1990

B.A. (honors), Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, 1985

B.A., Applied Mathematics, University of Chicago, 1985.

  • Fu, R. R., Ermakov, A., Marchi, S., Castillo-Rogez, J. C., Hager, B. H., Raymond, C. A., Bland, M. T., Zuber, M.T., King S. D., Park, R. S., Russell, C. T., Interior structure of the dwarf planet Ceres as revealed by surface topography, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., in revision.
  • Adam, C., Caddick, M. J., and King, S. D., Pyroxenite causes fat plumes and stagnant slabs, Geophys, Res. Lett., 44, doi:10.1002/2017GL072943, 2017.
  • Russell, C.T., Raymond, C.A., Ammannito, E., Buczkowski, D. L., De Sanctis, M.C., Hiesinger, H., Jaumann, R., King, S. D.. Konopliv, A. S.. McSween, H.Y. Nathues, A., Park, R.S., Pieters, C.M., Prettyman, T.H., McCord, T.B., McFadden, L., Mottola, S., Zuber, M.T., Joy, S.P., Polanskey, C., Rayman, M.D., Castillo-Rogez, J.C., Chi, P.J., Combe, J.P., Ermakov, A., Hoffmann, M., Jia, Y.D., Li, J.-Y., Marchi, S., Preusker, F., Roatsch, T., Ruesch, O., Schenk, P., Villarreal, M.N., Yamashita, N., Dawn arrives at Ceres: Exploration of a small volatile-rich worldScience353, 6303, 1008-1010, 2016.
  • Bland, M. T., Raymond, C. A., Schenk, P. M., Fu, R. R., Kneissl, T., Pasckert, J. H., Hiesinger, H., Preusker, F., Park, R. S., Marchi, S., King S. D., Castillo-Rogez, J. C., Russell, C. T., The composition and structure of Ceres’ as revealed by its largest craters, Nature Geosci., 9, 538–542, doi:10.1038/ngeo2743, 2016.
  • Xue, J. and King, S. D., Geodynamic investigation of a cretaceous superplume in the Pacific Ocean, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 257, 137-148, 2016.
  • King, S. D., Reconciling laboratory and observational models of mantle rheology in geodynamic modeling, J. Geodynam., 100, 33-50, doi: 10.1016/j.jog.2016.03.005, 2016.
  • King, S. D., An Evolving View of Transition Zone and Mid-Mantle Viscosity, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, doi: 10.1002/2016GC006279, 2016.
  • Adam, C., S. D. King, V. Vidal, M. Rabinowicz, A. Jalobeanu, M. Yoshida, Variation of the subsidence parameters, effective thermal conductivity, and mantle dynamics, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 426, 130–142, 2015.
  • King, S. D., Mantle convection, the asthenosphere, and Earth’s thermal history, in Foulger, G. R., M. Lustrino, and S. D. King eds., The Interdisciplinary Earth: A Volume in Honor of Don L. Anderson: Geological Society of America Special Paper 514 and American Geophysical Union Special Publication 71, p. 87-114, 2015.
  • Wada, I., and S. D. King, Dynamics of subducting slabs: Numerical modeling and constraints from seismology, geoid, topography, geochemistry, and petrology, In Treatise on Geophysics (Second Edition), edited by Gerald Schubert, Elsevier, Oxford, Volume 7, p. 339-391, doi:10.1016/B978-0-444-53802-4.00132-9, 2015.
  • King, S. D., D. J. Frost, and D. C. Rubie, Why cold slabs stagnate in the transition zone, Geology, 43, 231-234, 2015. Anderson, D. L. and S. D. King, Driving the Earth Machine?, Science, 346, 1176-1177, 2014.
  • King S. D. and C. Adam, Hotspot swells revisited, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 235, 66-83, 2014. (Invited Review Paper).
  • Samuel, H. and S. D. King, The combined effect of plate motions and small-scale convection on mantle stirring efficiency, Nature Geosciences, 7, 602-605, doi:10.1038/NGEO2208, 2014.
  • Cheung, K. and S. D. King, Geophysical evidence supports migration of Tharsis volcanism on Mars, J. Geophys. Res., 119, doi:10.1002/2014JE004632, 2014.
  • Sekhar, P., and S. D. King, 3D spherical models of Martian mantle convection constrained by melting history, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 388, 27-37, 2014.
  • Benoit, M., M. Long, and S. D. King, An anomalously thin transition zone beneath Bermuda and the origin of Bermuda volcanism, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 14, doi:10.1002/ggge.20277, 2013.
  • Morra, G., Geller, R. J., Grilli, S. T., Karato, S.-I., King, S. D., Lee, S.-M., Tackley, P. J., Yuen, D. A., Growing Understanding of Subduction Dynamics Indicates Need to Rethink Seismic Hazards, EOS (Forum Article), 94, 125-126, 2013.
  • Elementary Geophysics, GEOS 3104, (spring term)
  • Mission to the Planets, GEOS 2014, (fall term)
  • Geodynamics, GEOS 5124, (fall term, odd years)
  • Planetary Surface Processes, GEOS 5134, (fall term, even years)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Research Award November 2009
  • University Faculty Scholar, Purdue University July 2004-June 2007
  • Summer Faculty Research Fellow, Argonne National Laboratory June 1993-August 1993
  • Green Scholar, Scripps Institution of Oceanography October 1990-December 1991
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