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Stein Recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Geology

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July 7, 2009 | by Megan Fellman
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Seth A. Stein, the William Deering Professor of Geological Sciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, has been selected to receive the 2009 George P. Woollard Award from the Geophysics Division of the Geological Society of America.

The annual award recognizes Stein’s outstanding contributions to geology through application of the principles and techniques of geophysics.

Stein is among the leading geophysicists of his generation. His research focuses on plate tectonics, earthquake seismology and hazards, and space geodesy. Stein is known for his contributions to our understanding of global plate motions, mantle heat flow and large earthquakes.

He conducts ongoing studies of earthquakes and tectonic processes, including in the Andes and the New Madrid seismic zone in the central United States. Shortly after the 2004 Sumatra earthquake, Stein and colleagues determined the quake was approximately three times larger than previously reported. Other studies focus on the thermal evolution of oceanic lithosphere.

Stein has co-authored a widely used textbook, “Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes and Earth Structure” (2003), and is completing a popular book, “Epicenter: How New Science Is Changing Our View of Earthquake Hazards in the Midwest.”

He served as scientific director of the consortium of universities using GPS for Earth science and has been visiting senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Stein received the James B. Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union and is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union. The Institute for Scientific Information named him one of the most-cited Earth scientists.

Stein was one of the organizers of EarthScope, a national initiative to dramatically advance our knowledge of the structure and evolution of North America. He is active in the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology’s education and outreach program to help improve public understanding of earthquakes and methods for reducing their impact on society. In the early 1990s, Stein and a group of colleagues started Northwestern’s undergraduate environmental science program.

He is the author of more than 100 scientific publications and was editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research.