In recent years the principal focus of Dr. Turcotte's research group has been the application of dynamical systems to geological problems. They have studied the use of fractals to quantify crustal deformation, seismicity, fragmentation, mineral deposits, petroleum reserves, and digitized data sets, including topography. In a parallel effort, they have quantified chaotic mantle convection and the chaotic behavior of sets of slider blocks. The latter is an analog of distributed seismicity.
Another major effort has been studies of convection within the earth's mantle, particularly in relation to plate tectonics. The group has been especially interested in the forces that drive the plates and result in seismicity, volcanism, and mountain building at the earth's surface. Recently they have been studying global geochemical cycles in order to better understand the distribution of major elements, trace elements, and isotopes.
Dr. Turcotte's research group has also played a major role in the interpretation of data returned from various planetary missions. They have explained the correlation between topography and gravity on the moon and Mars in terms of the flexural rigidity of thick planetary shells. In their most recent work we are trying to quantify differences between Earth and Venus.Current Research Projects
- Implications of Convection within the Moon and the Terrestrial Planets (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
- Studies of Mantle Convection and Related Problems (National Science Foundation)
- Applications of Dynamical Systems, Including Fractals and Chaos, to Geological Problems (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)