Wysession is national lecture series speaker

The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Seismological Society of America (SSA) have selected Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, as one of two speakers for their third annual IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lectures series.

Wysession joins Susan Hough, Ph.D., of the U.S. Geological Survey, in receiving the honor. They will each give about a dozen talks aimed at general audiences throughout this year.

Among the sites where Wysession will lecture are the Chicago Field Museum, American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Wysession is an established world leader in the area of seismology and geophysical education. He has developed several means of using the seismic waves from earthquakes to “see” into the Earth and create 3-D pictures of Earth’s interior. These images help in understanding what the Earth is made of and how it evolves over time.

An important part of the focus of Wysession’s research has been the complex boundary region between the solid rock of Earth’s mantle and the liquid iron of Earth’s core. Some of these investigations have been carried out using seismic information from arrays of seismometers that he has deployed across America.

The results show that Earth is in constant internal motion, carrying heat from the deep interior up to the surface like a continual conveyor belt.

Wysession also is a leader in the area of geoscience education, an author of Prentice Hall’s physical science textbook and a supervisor of the writing of several other textbooks. At a more advanced level, he is the co-author of Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes, and Earth Structure, a leading graduate-level textbook used in geophysics classes around the world.

He constructed the first computer-generated animation of how seismic waves propagate within the Earth from an earthquake, creating a 20-minute movie that is used in many high-school and college classrooms.

Wysession has written about the deep Earth in several general-audience publications such as Scientific American, American Scientist and Earth magazines.