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Stein Recognized for Contributions to Tectonics and Geophysics

Honored by both the European Geosciences Union and the Academy of Europe

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January 13, 2010 | 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 2010 Stephan Mueller Medal from the European Geosciences Union. He also has been elected a foreign member of the Academy of Europe.

The Mueller Medal is awarded to Stein in "recognition of his outstanding contributions to the study of the kinematics and dynamics of plate boundaries and plate interiors based on innovative applications of seismology and space-geodesy, and his role in establishing the first Plate Boundary Observatory." Stein will receive the medal in Vienna in May and also deliver a Medal Lecture.

One of the leading geophysicists of his generation, Stein studies earthquakes and tectonic processes around the world, including those in 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.

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.

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 a visiting senior scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Stein received the 2009 George P. Woollard Award from the Geophysics Division of the Geological Society of America and the James B. Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union. He 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 advance 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.