Newsletter – November 2016

Posted 11/10/16 by morganj in Newsletter


T-section Newsletter – November 2016

As we prepare for the 2016 Fall AGU meeting I thought I would update you on some developments in the Tectonophysics section.

All change at the top

My term as President will end at the end of December after which President-elect Ross Stein will take over. Having worked closely with Ross over the past 2 years I am pleased to be able to say that the section will be in very good hands. We wish him well in the years ahead.

As you know, we recently held our bi-annual elections along with those of other AGU sections and so many congratulations to Juli Morgan and Jolante van Wijk who will take over from Ross and Juli Morgan as President-elect and Secretary-elect respectively at the end of December.

Co-sponsorship with EGU and JpGU

We continue to receive requests from our membership to increase the sponsorship of sessions at meetings of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) and the Japan Geoscience Union (JpGU). Co-sponsorship is much appreciated by our international members and leads to improved understanding between our section and our sister communities so if you are organizing a session that you would like us to co-sponsor please let us know.


Thanks to Juli Morgan and the IT staff at AGU, the new look section webpage is now up and running. The site lists all of the T-section committees and their membership. There are also links on the site to a Tectonics research paper feed and to large national and international programs such as EarthScope and IODP.

Exec. Comm.

The Exec. Comm. meets at Fall AGU and last year we held the first meeting with Early Career and Graduate Student representatives, Rebecca Bell and Gabe Lotto. Rebecca and Gabe contributed new ideas on a section-focused event for graduate student and early career scientists, which we hope to implement next year. In the meantime, we have allocated section funds to support 11 undergraduate (4), Masters (1) and graduate students (6) attend the Fall AGU meeting. 4 of these students are working in US-based research institutions and 9 are working overseas.


Union Fellows

First, let me congratulate the T-section Class of 2016 Fellows. This year, we were awarded 5 new Fellows with T-section as their primary affiliation and one additional Fellow with T-section as a secondary affiliation. They are:

  • Steven Constable
  • Uri ten Brink
  • Andrea Tommasi
  • Kelin Wang
  • Bob White
  • Sean Willet

Our allocation of Fellowships by the Union Fellows Committee compares well to previous years. Thank you to Chair Ross Stein and the rest of the Fellows Nomination Committee for their hard work in reviewing the nominations.

Jason Morgan Early Career Award

This continues to be a prestigious and sought after award and this year competition was again fierce. Congratulations to Whitney Behr of the University of Texas who receives the award for her thorough explorations of the kinematics, mechanics and rheology of deformation in continental lithosphere, experimental rock mechanics, and Quaternary geomorphology to determine geologic fault slip rates. Whitney will receive the award at Fall AGU, just prior the Birch Lecture, on Wednesday 14 December at 16:00 hrs.

Thank you Chair Tim Stern and the rest of the committee for their hard work in reviewing the nominations.

Birch Lecture

The T-section Birch Lecture has been a feature of AGU meetings since 1992 and honors the seminal works of Francis Birch on the structure and composition of Earth’s interior. Congratulations to Maya Tolstoy of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who receives this honor for her contributions to Marine Geophysics, especially to the tidal triggering of seafloor earthquakes, the transmission of hydroacoustic waves generated by natural phenomena and the possible links between climate-driven sea-level change and ocean floor topography. We hope you will come along to Maya’s lecture, which will follow the award of the Jason Morgan Early Career Award to Whitney.

Paul G. Silver Award for Outstanding Scientific Service

This is a shared award with Geodesy, Seismology and Tectonophysics and this year it was our turn to Chair the award committee, which comprised the Presidents and President-elects all three sections. We received a number of excellent applications and after careful consideration recommended the award to Rob Reilinger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rob receives the award for inspiring so many researchers and students, in so many countries, to collaborate in the construction of a vast geodetic observatory centered on the Eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia and for his seminal works on the geodynamics and seismicity of this earthquake prone region.

Honors Nominating Committee

The T-section has a standing Nominating Committee.  Their charge is to encourage nominations of outstanding members of the section for AGU service and awards at both the Union and Section level.  The committee takes a comprehensive look at potential nominees across the section, including international members, women, and other underrepresented groups.   Currently, the committee comprises Chair Susan Beck and members Thorsten Becker, Dietmar Müller and Basil Tikoff and they would welcome any suggestions that you may have of nominees for AGU service and awards.

Volunteer to be a Judge for OSPA

We are keen to extend our award schemes across the entire T-section membership so would like to bring your attention to the Outstanding Student Paper Award (OSPA) program. The program received a record number of applications this year.  Please consider serving as a judge to help pick the best Tectonophysics student presentations.  You can register on the OSPA Portal (,judges), and then select presentations you are willing to judge.  Your generous time commitment and constructive feedback is vital for student growth and development, and helps to build our section.  Please direct questions to the two T-section OSPA coordinators: Juli Morgan ( or Kristin Morell (

Section Name Change/Augmentation and Re-organization

Last year we raised the question of a name change for the section. Some of you believe ‘tectonophysics’ is somewhat arcane, whereas ‘seismology’ and ‘geodesy’ are not. For example, many people refer to themselves as seismologists and geodesists, but few as tectonophysists. Some names/augmentations that have garnered informal support are:

  • Tectonophysics, Geodynamics, and Structural Geology
  • Tectonophysics, Active Tectonics, and Geodynamics

We welcome your views on this either by email (; or by talking with us at Fall AGU.

In the meantime, AGU’s Affiliation and Engagement Task Force has been meeting and deliberating on the organization of sections in the light of the many changes that are occurring in the Earth and Space science community, especially with regard to its becoming more interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary and using more online and social media platforms for collaboration. The Task Force Chair is T-section member Bob Detrick who will present its recommendations to Council at the Fall meeting. We look forward to hearing the recommendations of the Task Force, especially as it concerns re-organization, not just of our section, but for all sections and focus groups in the AGU.

Fall AGU

We look forward to seeing you at Fall AGU this year nd at the Tectonophysics and Seismology Joint Reception at 18:30 on Tuesday 15 December in the San Francisco Marriot Marquis Salons 12-15!

Tony Watts (AGU Section President, Tectonophysics)

Ross Stein (AGU Section President-elect, Tectonophysics)

Julia Morgan (AGU Section Secretary, Tectonophysics)

Greg Hirth (AGU Section Past President, Tectonophysics)