Gordon Research Conferences
Meeting Details

Interior of the Earth
Gordon Research Conference

Chemical and Dynamical Evolution of Earth's Deep Interior, from Formation to Today


June 4-9, 2017


Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, MA Site Information


Ed Garnero

Vice Chair:
Roberta Rudnick

Meeting Description

In order to understand planetary formation and evolution, we must consider observations, measurements, and predictions of Earth's deep interior in their appropriate temporal context. The paucity of information available for the earliest time period of Earth's history requires collaboration between researchers of different disciplines to discuss latest findings and brainstorm about future research directions. The 2017 Gordon Research Conference on the Interior of the Earth has the theme "from Earth formation to the present day", and will synthesize new research on planetary interiors across a broad range of disciplines including, but not limited to, seismology, geodynamics, mineral physics, geochemistry, geomagnetism, petrology, tectonics, and planetary science. This conference includes multidisciplinary sessions dealing with the structure, dynamics, chemistry, and evolution of the deep interior through time. Cutting-edge research findings will be presented on these topics from a broad suite of disciplines, defining the most pressing questions about planetary interiors and their evolution to the present day. The conference format provides the opportunity for junior scientists and graduate students to present posters and exchange ideas with leading researchers across disciplines in a collegial atmosphere. Regular discussion sessions and informal gatherings contribute to the tradition of fruitful and lively exchange between scientists at all levels in a cross-disciplinary format.

Related Meeting

This GRC will be held in conjunction with the "Interior of the Earth" Gordon Research Seminar (GRS). Those interested in attending both meetings must submit an application for the GRS in addition to an application for the GRC. Refer to the associated GRS program page for more information.


Meeting Program

2:00 pm - 9:00 pmArrival and Check-in
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmWelcome / Introductory Comments by GRC Site Staff
7:40 pm - 9:30 pmFrom Accretion to Today: The Evolution of Earth's Deep Interior
While many events and processes related to Earth’s evolution remain unknown or enigmatic, meteorites and igneous rocks preserve information about Earth’s origin and early history, helping to ground-truth models of planetary accretion and (ongoing?) differentiation. These provide a temporal framework for understanding the evolution of Earth’s present-day deep interior, as well as its relationship to the surface.
Discussion Leader: Matthew Jackson (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA)
7:40 pm - 7:50 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:50 pm - 8:25 pmAudrey Bouvier (University of Western Ontario, Canada)
"Constraints from Meteorites on the Formation of the Earth"
8:25 pm - 8:40 pmDiscussion
8:40 pm - 9:15 pmRichard Walker (University of Maryland, USA)
"Implications of Isotopic Heterogeneity of Short-Lived Systems for Earth Formation and Long-Term Evolution"
9:15 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
8:30 amGroup Photo
9:00 am - 12:30 pmGeochemical Heterogeneity: Past and Present
Geochemical heterogeneities provide information on Earth’s long-term interior structure and dynamics. Important questions include: how do geochemical heterogeneities relate to ancient geodynamics? How do observed heterogeneities relate to present-day structures imaged in deep Earth? How did these heterogeneities form? To what extent are observed heterogeneities accurate proxies for distinct interior reservoirs?
Discussion Leader: Cornelia Class (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, USA)
9:00 am - 9:10 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:10 am - 9:45 amKaj Hoernle (GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany)
"New Insights into Mantle Heterogeneity from Oceanic Hotspots"
9:45 am - 10:05 amDiscussion
10:05 am - 10:35 amCoffee Break
10:35 am - 11:10 amRita Parai (University of Washington, USA)
"Ancient and Relatively Modern Mantle Heterogeneities from Xenon Isotopes in Mantle Rocks"
11:10 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:05 pmCatherine Chauvel (Université Grenoble Alpes, France)
"Size and Nature of Chemical Heterogeneities in a Weak Plume: The Polynesian Case"
12:05 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
3:00 pm - 4:00 pmPower Hour
The GRC Power Hour is an optional informal gathering open to all meeting participants. It is designed to help address the challenges women face in science and support the professional growth of women in our communities by providing an open forum for discussion and mentoring.
Organizers: Marine Lasbleis (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan) and Roberta Rudnick (University of Maryland, USA)
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmDynamics of Planetary Interiors
Convection within Earth and planetary bodies plays a critical role in heat transfer, compositional redistribution, and surficial regeneration. The global plan-form of convection is tied to tectonic plate behavior, involving phenomena that call for cross-disciplinary expertise, like lithosphere and asthenosphere rheology, state, and chemistry. We encourage focus on the time-varying nature of convection and, for example, feedbacks between interior dynamics and initiation of plate tectonics.
Discussion Leader: Allen McNamara (Michigan State University, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:40 pm - 8:15 pmScott King (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA)
"Mantle Viscosity, Plate Motions, Geoid, and Recent Tomographic Imaging: It's More Complex Than We Thought"
8:15 pm - 8:35 pmDiscussion
8:35 pm - 9:10 pmCraig O'Neill (Macquarie University, Australia)
"The Long Legacy of Deep Mantle Processes"
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmThe Transition Zone and Its Relationship to the Evolving Earth
The phase transitions in the olivine system at 410 and 660 km depth bound Earth’s transition zone, and depend upon temperature, composition, and possible presence of water. Investigations of the transition zone shed light on dynamic phenomena, such as plumes and subduction, that introduce/mediate thermal and chemical heterogeneity.
Discussion Leader: Caroline Beghein (University of California, Los Angeles, USA)
9:00 am - 9:10 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:10 am - 9:45 amNicholas Schmerr (University of Maryland, College Park, USA)
"Where Are All the Discontinuities? Evolving Our Understanding of the Mantle Transition Zone"
9:45 am - 10:05 amDiscussion
10:05 am - 10:35 amCoffee Break
10:35 am - 11:10 amMaxwell Rudolph (Portland State University, USA)
"Structure, Dynamics, and Evolution of the Mid Mantle"
11:10 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:05 pmWendy Panero (Ohio State University, USA)
"Prospecting for the Transition Zone's Water"
12:05 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmMultiscale Heterogeneity in Earth's Lower Mantle: Sharpening Our Focus
Heterogeneity is being mapped over several orders of magnitude in Earth’s mantle, from km level to 1000+ km level. Advances in seismic imaging are driven by new (and more) data, novel methodologies, and new regions of inquiry. Mapped structures include subducting slabs, plumes, LLSVPs, anisotropy, D” discontinuities, and other heterogeneities. Seismological ‘snap-shots’ provide (increasingly) good spatial detail, but require cross-disciplinary linkages to understand planetary dynamics and evolution in their full temporal context.
Discussion Leader: Barbara Romanowicz (University of California, Berkeley, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:45 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:45 pm - 8:20 pmPatrick Cordier (Université Lille 1, France)
"Rheology of the Mantle: Starting from the Atomic Scale"
8:20 pm - 8:35 pmDiscussion
8:35 pm - 9:10 pmMingming Li (University of Colorado Boulder, USA)
"Evolving Morphology and Distribution of Compositional Heterogeneities in the Lowermost Mantle"
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmThe Dynamic Core-Mantle Boundary Region
As the largest absolute density contrast in the Earth, the core-mantle boundary (CMB) region continues to attract investigations across many geodisciplines. Structures include thin mantle-side layering (ULVZs), which may contain partial melt, and core topography. Chemical exchange between the silicate mantle and the metal-rich core has been proposed as a source of mantle chemical heterogeneity. Mantle-side structures (e.g., LLSVPs) should affect CMB heat flow, and thus processes within the core.
Discussion Leader: Sebastian Rost (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)
9:00 am - 9:10 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:10 am - 9:45 amNicholas Mancinelli (Brown University, USA)
"Small-Scale Topography and Heterogeneity of the Core-Mantle Boundary Region: Global Constraints from Scattered Core Waves"
9:45 am - 10:05 amDiscussion
10:05 am - 10:35 amCoffee Break
10:35 am - 11:10 amAndrew Walker (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)
"Retrieving the Temperature Structure of the Lowermost Mantle with Constraints from the Mantle and Core"
11:10 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:05 pmJune Wicks (Princeton University, USA)
"Spin State Transitions in Perovskite/Post-Perovskites - What We Can Learn from Analogues"
12:05 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:00 pm - 7:30 pmBusiness Meeting
Nominations for the Next Vice Chair; Fill in Conference Evaluation Forms; Discuss Future Site and Scheduling Preferences; Election of the Next Vice Chair
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmOuter Core Structure, Composition, Dynamics, and the Magnetic Field
The physics, chemistry, and dynamics of the outer core are topics of research pursued across disciplines. From core formation to the generation of Earth’s magnetic field, investigations of composition (e.g., light elements) and other properties (e.g., rheology, thermal and electrical conductivity) continue to inform us about Earth formation and the evolution of deep Earth.
Discussion Leader: James Badro (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France)
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:40 pm - 8:15 pmAndrew Campbell (University of Chicago, USA)
"Mineral Physics of Earth's Core"
8:15 pm - 8:35 pmDiscussion
8:35 pm - 9:10 pmKei Hirose (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan)
"Chemical Evolution and the Present-Day Composition of the Liquid Outer Core"
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmInner Core Structure, Dynamics, and Evolution
The inner core, at the center of our planet, harbors a number of mysteries. We do not understand the cause of hemispherical differences in seismic signature, spatial variability in seismic anisotropy, or the (putative) presence of a structurally distinct innermost inner core. The dynamics, evolution, and growth of the inner core are important for powering the geodynamo, and the inner core is an active target of research across geodisciplines.
Discussion Leader: Arwen Deuss (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
9:00 am - 9:10 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:10 am - 9:45 amHrvoje Tkalcic (Australian National University, Australia)
"The Inner Core 2.0"
9:45 am - 10:05 amDiscussion
10:05 am - 10:35 amCoffee Break
10:35 am - 11:10 amDaniele Antonangeli (Institut de Mineralogie, de Physique des Materiaux et de Cosmochimie, France)
"Sound Velocities of Fe and Fe-Si Alloys at High Pressure and High Temperature"
11:10 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:05 pmMarine Lasbleis (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan)
"Inner Core Dynamics: Combining Seismic Studies and Geodynamical Models"
12:05 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmUnsolved Problems and Future Directions
A tradition for the Interior of the Earth GRC is to sum up with a view of the exciting unsolved problems and possible future directions. This session will highlight important areas of research that hold promise for advancing our understanding of Earth’s interior.
Discussion Leader: John Hernlund (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan)
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:40 pm - 7:50 pmShort Talk Selected from Poster Abstracts
7:50 pm - 7:55 pmDiscussion
7:55 pm - 8:05 pmShort Talk Selected from Poster Abstracts
8:05 pm - 8:10 pmDiscussion
8:10 pm - 8:35 pmLouise Kellogg (University of California, Davis, USA)
"Chemical Geodynamics Revisited"
8:35 pm - 8:45 pmDiscussion
8:45 pm - 9:10 pmLars Stixrude (University College London, United Kingdom)
"Future Directions Towards Earth's Deep Past"
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 amDeparture
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