Thorne Lay

TitleDistinguished Professor,
Director, Center for the Study of Imaging and Dynamics of the Earth
DivisionPhysical & Biological Sciences
DepartmentPBSci-Earth & Planetary Sciences Department,
Geophysics & Planetary Physics
Web Site Website
OfficeEarth & Marine Sciences C382
Campus Mail StopEarth and Planetary Sciences
Thorne Lay

Research Interests

Thorne Lay's primary research interests involve analysis of seismic waves to interrogate the deep structure of the Earth's interior and to study the physics of earthquake faulting. In the realm of deep Earth structure, the focus is on imaging structures associated with internal dynamics of the mantle, particularly the core-mantle boundary region and the vicinity of subducting lithosphere. Studies of the core-mantle boundary have revealed a complex seismic structure believed to involve a thermal and chemical boundary layer at this, the largest internal compositional contrast within the planet. One of the major questions about subducting lithosphere that is being addressed is the depth extent to which the subducting material penetrates, which is closely linked to the debate about layered mantle versus whole mantle convection. Other Earth structure interests include the lateral variations of lithospheric structure, which are studied using body waves and surface waves, and the nature of regional waves propagating in the crust.

Earthquake-related investigations include waveform modeling of body and surface waves to determine the nature of faulting and to develop seismic models for the entire rupture process, which can then be interpreted using fracture mechanics. Areas of concentration have included investigations of faulting within subducting slabs, slip heterogeneity in the large thrust events around the Circum-Pacific region, and rapid determination of fault parameters for regional earthquakes using broadband seismic waves. Nuclear explosion sources are also being studied to provide improved means for monitoring low-threshold test ban treaties. The common trend in the overall program is the quantitative analysis of seismic waves to improve our understanding of the Earth's dynamic processes and social hazards.

Biography, Education and Training

B.S., University of Rochester
M.S., Ph.D., California Institute of Technology

Teaching Interests

Earth Catastrophes, Global Seismology, Advanced Seismology, Current Research Topics in Deep Earth Processes