Douglas Wiens

Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Douglas Wiens

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Biography

Wiens specializes in seismology and geophysics and has done extensive research on large deep earthquakes in the Pacific Ocean. He also is researching the seismology of Antarctica. He has taught courses on earth forces, seismology, environmental geophysics and geodynamics. Through his research on the melting of ice sheets and the ensuing sea-level rise, Wiens is uniquely positioned to talk about climate change.

Stories

West Antarctica without ice

The geography of Antarctica’s underside

Scientists were able to deploy ruggidized seismometers that could withstand intense cold in Antarctica only recently. A line of seismometers strung across the West Antarctic Rift Valley and the Marie Byrd Land have given geologists their first good look at the mantle beneath the ice and rocks, revealing areas of hot rock that might affect the behavior of the overlying ice sheet.

2010 Chilean earthquake triggered icequakes in Antarctica

In March 2010, the ice sheets in Antarctica vibrated a bit more than usual as a surface wave from an 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile 3,000 kilometers away passed through the ice. Powerful earthquakes were known to trigger secondary quakes along faults in land; this was the first observation of triggered quakes in the ice. Washington University in St. Louis seismologist Doug Wiens says the finding is one of several discoveries made possible by POLENET, an array of seismic stations that reaches for the first time into the interior of Antarctica.

Two Washington University in St. Louis geologists comment on the Japanese earthquake

In the weeks following the earthquake, two geologists at Washington University in St. Louis — Doug Wiens, PhD, professor and chair of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, and Michael Wysession, PhD, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences — were frequently interviewed by journalists seeking to understand a catastrophe that seemed at times beyond understanding. What did the two scientists think about the quake? What was expected and what surprised them?

Storms, soccer matches hidden in seismometer noise

Who knew? The chance discovery that spikes in seismometer noise recorded in Africa corresponded with soccer matches has led to the discovery that there’s a lot more buried in the noise, including a signal from the famous storms of the Southern Atlantic Ocean, the bane of ships of sail.