Jerry X. Mitrovica joined Harvard in 2009 as a Professor of Geophysics.His work focuses on the Earth's response to external and internal forcings that have time scales ranging from seconds to billions of years. He has written extensively on topics ranging from the connection of mantle convective flow to the geological record, the rotational stability of the Earth and other terrestrial planets, ice age geodynamics, and the geodetic and geophysical signatures of ice sheet melting in our progressively warming world. Sea-level change has served as the major theme of these studies, with particular emphasis on critical events in ice age climate and on the sea-level fingerprints of modern polar ice sheet collapse.
Mitrovica is the Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University. He is a former Director of the Earth Systems Evolution Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and J. Tuzo Wilson Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto, where he also received his Ph.D. degree. He is the recipient of the Arthur L. Day Medal from the Geological Society of America, the W.S Jardetsky Medal from Columbia University, the A.E.H. Love Medal from the European Geosciences Union and the Rutherford Memorial Medal from the Royal Society of Canada. He is also a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, as well as a past Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Dissertation title: “Interactions between long-term mantle dynamics and the evolution of Earth’s surface volatiles and climate” Advisor: Jerry Mitrovica Current position: Fellow at Insight Data Science
I work jointly between Harvard and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in the field of observational geodynamics. My research encompasses problems related to the structure, deformation, and flow of Earth's mantle. Geological processes include mantle convection, glacial isostatic adjustment, and lithospheric deformation, and I use tools including seismology, landscape evolution, geochemistry, sediment stratigraphy, and the elevation of sea-level markers. Recently, my work has been focusing on building models of 3D Earth structure for sea-level modelling and investigating the genesis of sediment-hosted metal deposits in sedimentary basins surrounding thick lithosphere. For more info, please check out my personal website.
Since receiving my PhD from the University of Toronto in 2000. I joined Prof. Jerry Mitrovica's group in Canada. After he left for Harvard, the collaboration continued and I became his Harvard group member in October 2017. The focus of my research is on development and application of numerical tools to examine problems related to the ice age geodynamics: visco-elastic deformation, sea level change, tidal response, Earth rotation, stress and gravity field calculation. Generally, we are trying to understand how Earth (or similarly structured planets) would respond to surface and/or potential forcing, given a loading history and an assumed visco-elastic structure, particularly three-dimensional, heterogeneous viscosity, as may be inferred from e.g. seismic tomography. Other important 3-D effects which we include in the models are variations in the lithospheric thickness, plate boundaries, slabs, low viscosity wedges, etc. This list is open-ended. The results are ultimately compared to observables, such as sea level markers or present-day deformation rates, available from satellite measuremets. We can, for example, provide a correction for the glacial isostatic adjustment contribution or assess the impact of a 3-D structure on such predictions, since conventional, radially stratified models are handled in a much more efficient way. The 3-D models require an excessive computer power, even for the forward problem. Currently, the simulations are performed on the Odyssey cluster (Harvard) with a finite volume MPI code, developed in Toronto in the early 2000-s. The latter is an ongoing project, including coding, maintenance, consulting and working with interested researchers on improvements. As a side product, this development has stimulated a strong interest in interpolation techniques and adaprive grid generation.
I am interested in understanding the surface expression of deep Earth dynamics and structure. My past research has focused on constraining and modelling the impacts of mantle convection on surface elevations and landscape evolution. This work has helped to reconcile numerical models and observations of this so-called ‘dynamic’ topography, while revealing that convectively driven vertical motions may occur at rates of up to 100 m per million years. These fast-evolving perturbations have significant implications across the Earth Sciences as they may destabilise polar ice sheets, alter ocean circulation via closure of ocean gateways, and control locations of resource-bearing sedimentary basins. My current work aims to integrate geological observations with numerical models to constrain these dynamic topography signals and remove them from palaeo sea-level estimates. These revised values will serve as useful tie points to calibrate ice sheet models, reducing uncertainty in projections of future sea-level rise.