David T. Sandwell

University of California, San Diego

Primary Section: 16, Geophysics
Secondary Section: 15, Geology
Membership Type: Member (elected 2011)


David T. Sandwell is a professor of geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Sandwell’s research interests are focused on mapping large-scale topographic features beneath the ocean using data collected by remote-sensing instruments on satellites orbiting the earth and sonars on research vessels. He chaired the 2020 report on Evolving the Geodetic Infrastructure to Meet New Scientific Needs and co-chaired the 2017 Decadal Survey Panel on Earth Surface and Interior. Dr. Sandwell is a fellow of the AAAS, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Geological Society of America, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He earned a B.S. in physics from the University of Connecticut, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in geophysics and space physics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Research Interests

I am a Geophysicist who uses the tools of Geodesy to investigate marine tectonics as well as continental crustal dynamics.  Over the years my research interests have evolved from studying the thermomechanical structure of the oceanic lithosphere to the tectonics of the planet Venus to the use of satellite altimetry and shipboard soundings to map the global seafloor and most recently to the use of satellite radar interferometry and GPS to model earthquake cycle processes.  Over the past 5 years, my research has been focused in two main areas. (1) Improving our understanding of the tectonics of the deep ocean basins using the tools of satellite gravity (radar altimetry) and archival ship soundings.  (2) Development of physical models of the earthquake cycle along the San Andreas Fault system using new data provided by space geodesy (GPS and radar interferometry).

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