Keith Koper

Professor, Geology & Geophysics
Director - UU Seismograph Stations, Geology & Geophysics

Office: 217 FASB
Office Phone: (801) 585-3669
Fax: (801) 585-5585
>> Curriculum Vitae
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Ph.D. Geophysics, Washington University, 1998
BA Math, Geology, ISP, Northwestern University, 1993

Field of Study

Earthquake seismology, deep Earth structure, array processing, forensic seismology

Research Statement

Over the last 10 years my research has been supported mainly by a string
of NSF-Geophysics grants that have enabled me to hire undergraduates,
graduate students, and post-docs to work on projects related to the seismic
imaging of Earth's deep interior. In particular, we have focused on providing
constraints on core structure that shed light on the heat budget within
the Earth and the generation of the geodynamo. For example, our work has
provided evidence for a sluggish, possibly stagnant, layer of fluid at the
base of the outer core that profoundly affects the chemical buoyancy thought
to drive core convection. More recently, a PhD student Yan Xu and I have
become interested in mapping out small-wavelength chemical heterogeneities
in the lower mantle that likely reflect ancient subducted oceanic crust.
I anticipate continuing to work in the general area of deep Earth
seismology for the foreseeable future.

I also have a long-standing interest in non-earthquake
seismic sources such as nuclear weapons tests, submarine explosions,
terrorist attacks, industrial accidents, etc. It turns out that
standard methods from earthquake seismology can often be applied to
such events to provide information that is useful to investigative
agencies, insurance companies, and government officials, as well as
being interesting to the general public. My work in this area has been
supported by a grant from the Air Force Research Laboratory and
I anticipate staying active in this community for the duration
of my research career.

Within the last 2-3 years I have become interested in imaging the
rupture properties of large earthquakes with teleseismic data. This
came about because of a student's class project in a graduate seminar
that I taught on processing seismic array data. The backprojection
technique we have developed is relatively new and has the potential of
providing important rupture details within 20-30 minutes of origin
time. This is relevant to government agencies responsible for
emergency response because for large earthquakes there is often
significant damage tens or hundreds or kilometers away from the
epicenter. The more quickly these regions can be identified the
more quickly aide can be arranged. I have no dedicated external grants
in this area, however our work has been financially supported by the USGS
via a sabbatical visit and an IPA agreement on a related topic.