Terry Plank is the Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. She is a geochemist who studies magmas associated with the plate tectonic cycle. She is known particularly for her studies of subduction zones: the inputs on the ocean floor, the temperatures attained beneath volcanoes, the melting process in the mantle, and the water contents of magmas before they erupt. Plank was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1963, where she attended the Tatnall School. She graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in earth sciences, and received a doctorate from Columbia University in 1993. She was on the faculty of the University of Kansas and Boston University before joining Columbia University in 2008. Plank received the Houtermans Medal from the European Association for Geochemistry, the Donath Medal from the Geological Society of America, is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society, the Geological Society of America, and the Mineralogical Society of America. In 2012 she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

Research Interests

Using a variety of geochemical tracers, Plank studies the origin and evolution of magmas. Examples include quantifying the roles of decompression, temperature and water in driving mantle melting, and crystal recycling fluxes at subduction zones. More recently, she has been determining the water concentration that magmas contain before they erupt, through the analysis of tiny inclusions of melt trapped inside volcanic crystals. This water drives both melt formation in the mantle as well as explosive eruptions. She is also exploring the use of chemical diffusion at microns lengthscale to constrain the minutes to hours of magma ascent prior to explosive eruptions. Plank, her students and postdocs have carried out field work around the Pacific rim, from Tonga to the Marianas island, the Aleutians and Costa Rica. Other recent work is focused on hundreds of volcanic vents in the Western US.

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Primary Section

Section 15: Geology

Secondary Section

Section 16: Geophysics