Geosciences at Virginia Tech

Faculty and Instructors

Scott King
Professor of Geophysics

3056 Derring
+1.540.231.8954 (Phone)
+1.540.231.3386 (FAX)

Mailing Address:
4044 Derring Hall (0420)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Ph.D., Geophysics, California Institute of Technology, 1990
B.A., Geophysical Sciences, The University of Chicago, 1985


Research Interests

My research focuses on the dynamics and evolution of the interior of the terrestrial planets. While motions in the interior of the Earth are almost imperceptible on human time scales, the process by which the Earth cools is the driving force behind most tectonic and volcanic activity. Mantle convection and plate motions are part of a linked system. I use the computer as my laboratory and computer models as tools for hypothesis testing. The observations constraining the dynamics of the Earth's interior come from seismology, mineral physics. geochemistry, geodesy, and geology. I have projects working on subduction zones, hotspots, and plate reorganizations. Because many of these problems require large computer calculations, other aspects of my research interests include improving the efficiency of computations and visualization of the results.

I am also interested in the other terrestrial planets. Mars is particularly intriguing because the origin and evolution of two of the largest features (Tharsis rise and the crustal dichotomy) are poorly understood. Mercury is interesting because even though it is quite small, there is (apparently) an active core dynamo. Venus is similar in size to Earth but has no plate tectonics.

Publications (last three years)

  • King, S. D., Eruptions above mantle shear, Nature Geoscience (News and Views), 4, 279-280, 2011.

  • Long, M. D., M. H. Benoit, M. C. Chapman, and S. D. King, Upper mantle anisotropy and transition zone thickness beneath southeastern North America and implications for mantle dynamics, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 11, Q10012, 2010.

  • Lee, C., and S. D. King, Why are high Mg# andesites widespread in the western Aleutians?; A numerical model approach, Geology, 38, 583-587, 2010.

  • King S. D., C. Lee, P. E. van Keken, W. Leng, S. Zhong, E. Tan, E., M. Gurnis, N. Tosi, and M. C. Kameyama, A community benchmark for 2D Cartesian compressible convection in the Earth’s mantle, Geophys. J. Int., 180, 73-87, 2010.

  • King, S. D., On topography and geoid from 2D stagnant-lid convection calculations, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 10, Q3002, 2009.

  • Lee, C., and King, S.D., Effect of mantle compressibility on the thermal and flow structures of the subduction zones, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 10, Q1006, 2009.

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