Dr. Levander in cockpit

Alan Levander
Carey Croneis Professor

Lithosphere and Upper Mantle Seismology, Imaging, and Wave Propagation

Overview: My primary interests are studying the structure and tectonics of active plate margins, modern orogenic belts, and the structure of the upper mantle under continents using active and passive source seismic methods. I've been involved in a number of experiments, utilizing instrumentation from the PASSCAL facility of IRIS. I also make images of the shallow subsurface using active seismic methods for environmental remediation.

Active Source Experiments: I have conducted reflection/refraction investigations in the

  1. San Andreas transform fault system in southeastern, central, and northern California:
    1. PG&E-EDGE Experiment, Moro Bay, CA, 1986; with Stanford, OSU, and HARC. Funded by Rice and the NSF.
    2. RISC, Chocolate Mountains, CA, 1992; with USC and the USGS. Funded by NSF Geophysics.
    3. The Mendocino Triple Junction Region Seismic Experiment, CA, 1993-1994, with Lehigh, Oregon State, Stanford, and the USGS. Funded by NSF Continental Dynamics.
  2. The Brooks Range, Arctic Alaska (1988,1990; with the USGS and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Funded by PASSCAL and NSF Geophysics.
  3. The western North American orogenic plateau (DeepProbe, 1996; with UT El Paso, and the University of Oregon. Funded by NSF Continental Dynamics.
  4. The southern Rocky Mountains, CDROM, 1998-1999; with the University of New Mexico, U.T. El Paso, University of Wyoming, the University of Arizona, and the University of Oregon. Funded by NSF Continental Dynamics.
  5. SE Caribbean Plate Boundary Continental Dynamics Project, BOLIVAR, 2003-2004; with the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, the University of Georgia, Indiana University, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and FUNVISIS. Funded by NSF Continental Dynamics. See also http://www.ig.utexas.edu/outreach/ttif/BOLIVAR/
  6. I have an upcoming active source project in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, PICASSO, 2009; with the University of Oregon, USC, WHOI, and CSIC "Jaume Almera", Barcelona. Funded by NSF Continental Dynamics.

HiRes Seismics: I have also had a number of high resolution projects, notably a long-term project at OU2 at Hill Air Force Base, Ogden Utah, where Rice seismology has completed

  1. 2D P-wave reflection seismic profiling (1998)
  2. 3D P-wave reflection seismic survey and 2 VSP's (2000) (3-D REFLECTION, 3-D TOMOGRAPHY)
  3. 2-D elastic wave profiling (2003).

Passive Source Experiments: I'm becoming increasingly involved in passive source broadband experiments; my current experiments are:

  1. Western Venezuela. BOLIVAR, 2007-2009; with FUNVISIS. Funded by NSF Continental Dynamics.
  2. Mendocino Triple Junction, FAME, 2007-2009; with the University of Oregon, and U.C. Berkeley. Funded by NSF Earthscope.
  3. The Gibraltar Arc and Atlas mountains of Southern Spain and northern Morocco, PICASSO, 2009-2012; with the University of Oregon, USC, WHOI, and CSIC

Seismic Imaging: A large part of my research is devoted to developing seismic data processing methods, including depth migration/inversion algorithms, for vertical-incidence and wide-angle active source seismic data, and for teleseismic data. With colleagues at NM Tech, Indiana, and MIT, I've helped organize a number of workshops on seismic imaging with funding from the NSF Earthscope program (see http://terra.rice.edu/department/research/alan1/Imaging_Science_Workshop/). I have also lectured on imaging and array methods at the CIDER workshops in 2006 and 2008.

Stochastic Models of the Earth: To characterize the highly heterogeneous rocks found in the crystalline crust my colleagues and I have developed stochastic models of igneous and metamorphic rocks, providing a statistical description of rock fabrics and seismic velocities, and used the stochastic characterization to calculate synthetics seismograms.

Holliger and Levander, 1992, GRL.
Levander and Holliger, 1992, J. Geophys. Res.
Holliger et al., 1993, J. Geophys. Res.
Levander et al., 1994, Tectonophysics and GJI
Holliger and Levander, 1994ab, Geology
Holliger and Levander, 1994, GJI
Goff et al., 1994, GRL
Goff and Levander, 1996, J. Geophys. Res.

Synthetic Seismograms: I have developed a commonly used finite-difference algorithm for calculating elastic wave synthetic seismograms in 2-dimensionally heterogeneous media. [Levander, 1988, Geophysics].

Current Students

  1. Yang He, M.Sc., Teleseismic Imaging
  2. Maximilian Bezada, Ph.D., Venezuelan crustal structure
  3. Geoffrey Chambers, M.Sc., Elastic waveform tomography
  4. Yongbo Zhai, Ph.D., Mendocino Triple Junction teleseismic imaging
  5. Kaijian Liu, Ph.D., USArray Imaging
  6. Jeniffer Masy, M.Sc., Western Venezuela teleseismic imaging

Current Post-Doctoral Fellows

  1. Meghan S. Miller, (Ph.D. 2006, Australia National University). 2008-2009. Teleseismic Imaging.
  2. Aimin Cao, (Ph.D., 2005, University of California at Berkeley). 2008- Teleseismic Imaging.

Former Students

  1. Than Putzig, M.A., 1988 - Wide-angle seismic data in the central California margin. [Now a post-doc at NCAR in space physics]
  2. Anne S. Meltzer, Ph.D., 1988 - Crustal structure and tectonic evolution: central California. [Now Dean of Sciences at Lehigh University]
  3. Bruce Gibson, Ph.D., 1988 - Seismic imaging of random heterogeneous zones. [Now an avocado grower in central California]
  4. R-C. Shih, Ph.D., 1990 - Layer-stripping reverse-time migration. [Now a Professor at Taiwan Memorial University]
  5. Claude F. Lafond, Ph.D. 1991 - A unified approach to complex seismic imaging problems. [Now at TotalFinaElf, Pau, France]
  6. Nizar Chemingui, M.A., 1995, Three-Dimensional Finite-Difference Methods for Seafloor Scattering. [Ph.D., 1999, Stanford University. Now at ExxonMobil Upstream Research]
  7. Johan O.A. Robertsson, Ph.D. 1995 - Scattering of acoustic energy from rough deep ocean seafloor: A numerical modeling approach. [Now a Researcher at the Schlumberger Research Center, Cambridge, UK]
  8. Gene Wissinger, Ph.D. 1996 - Seismic investigations in the Brooks Range, Arctic Alaska. [Now at Devon Energy]
  9. Steve Larkin, Ph.D. 1997 - Seismic scattering in the Earth's crust. [Now at Chevron]
  10. Peeter Akerberg, Ph.D. 1998 - Estimation of stochastic parameters from crustal seismic data. [Now at Chevron]
  11. Lisa LaFlame, M.A. 1998 - The Seismic Structure of the Basin and Range Revisited. [Now in the petroleum industry]
  12. Kara Hackwith, BA 2000 - [M.S. University of Wyoming, 2002. Now at TotalFinaElf]
  13. Diana Dana, MA 2001, Ph.D. 2003 - Near surface seismic reflection investigations at a groundwater contamination site. [Now at Nexus Geosciences Inc]
  14. Aron Azaria, MA, 2003, Three dimensional traveltime tomography at a shallow groundwater contamination site. C.A. Zelt, primary advisor [Now at ExxonMobil]
  15. Peng Shen, Ph.D., 2004, Wave equation migration velocity analysis by differential semblance optimization. W.W. Symes primary advisor. [Now at Shell]
  16. Fuchun Gao, Ph.D. candidate - Diffraction Tomography [Now at CGGVeritas]
  17. Jian-Luigi Fradellizio, Ph.D. 2007, Using Elastic Wave Seismic Data to Image on Ultra-Shallow Buried Paleo-channel. [Now at Chevron]
  18. Adyemi Arogunmatic, M.Sc., 2006, 3-D Seismic Structure of the Leeward Antilles Arc from seismic refraction and reflection tomography [Now at Ph.D. student at Stanford]
  19. Stephen A. Clark, Ph.D., 2007, Characterizing the Southeast Caribbean-South American Plate Boundary at 64°W. [Now a post-doc at the University of Oslo]
  20. Maria Carolina Guedez-Parra, M.Sc., 2007, Crustal Structure Across the Caribbean-South American Plate Boundary at 70W- Results from Seismic Refraction and Reflection Data. [Now at ExxonMobil]

Former Post-Doctoral Fellows

  1. Anne S. Meltzer, (Ph.D., 1988 Rice University) 1988-1989: Crustal structure and tectonic evolution: central California. [Now Dean of Sciences at Lehigh University]
  2. Klaus Holliger, (Ph.D. 1990, ETH Zurich), 1991-1994: Crustal heterogeneity and wave propagation. [Now Professor of Geophysics at the University of Lausanne]
  3. Satish Pullammanappallil, (Ph.D., 1992, University of Nevada at Reno), 1994-1996: Estimation of crustal heterogeneity parameters. [Now a research scientist at the University of Nevada at Reno]
  4. Timothy J. Henstock, (Ph.D., 1993, Cambridge University), 1994-1999: Mendocino Triple Junction Seismic Experiment, Deep Probe Experiment. [Now Lecturer at the Southhampton Marine Science Centre Southhampton, U.K.]
  5. Igor Morozov, (Ph.D.), 1999-2001: Advanced High Resolution Seismic Imaging for Environmental Characterization [Now a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan]
  6. Kidane Araya, (Ph.D., Colorado School of Mines), 1999-2001: Advanced High Resolution Seismic Imaging for Environmental Characterization [Now at Sensorwise, Inc.]
  7. Beatrice Magnani (Ph.D., 2000, Universita' degli Studi di Perugia), 2000-2005: Continental Dynamics of the Rocky Mountains (CDROM): Reflection seismology of the Jemez Lineament, New Mexico. [Now a Research Professor at CIRES, University of Memphis]
  8. Christian Poppeliers (Ph.D., 2002, Indiana University). 2003-2004. Teleseismic Imaging. [Now a Professor at Angelo State University]
  9. Dr. Fuchun Gao, (Ph.D., 2004, Rice University). 2004-2005, Waveform Tomography. [Now at CGGVertias]