Professor Louis Moresi

DPhil (Oxford); BA(hons) (Cambridge)

I am a professor of geophysics / geodynamics and I am interested in understanding the evolution of the deep Earth over geological time,  how this evolution is recorded in the superficial geological record, and how to build computation modelling tools to simulate the Earth. The tools of my trade are computational programs and numerical algorithms which you can read about on the Software page.

I am a strong supporter of open source code so you will also find links to repositories where the source code is available with examples of how to reproduce peer-reviewed benchmarks and published results. Since I am also a believer in literate programming [1], recent examples are in the form of ipython / jupyter notebooks.

[1] Knuth, Donald E. (1984). “Literate Programming”. The Computer Journal (British Computer Society) 27 (2): 97–111. doi:10.1093/comjnl/27.2.97.

Research interests

I am trying to understand the thermal-mechanical evolution of the Earth through geological time. This includes the fundamental question of how convective heat loss from the deep Earth is expressed mechanically as plate tectonics, the role of continents in the modulating this expression, the interaction between processes on this planetary scale with instabilities at the lithospheric scale — whether rheological or mechanical in nature, the influence of atmospheric feedbacks on the solid earth, and the signatures of all these processes that we can expect to find through geophysical observation of the present day Earth, and in the long-term geological record.

Much of the complexity in the surface expression of mantle flow can be attributed to the non-linear nature of the constitutive laws. The Earth, on geological timescales, behaves as a non-linear viscoelastic fluid with a finite strength due to small-scale processes such as faulting and ductile shear localization which can be treated through the theory of plasticity. The underlying processes which we treat in this manner introduce complexity in that they introduce a significant dependence on the stress, strain, and thermal histories of the fluid representation. Plasticity is typically a phenomenological description of the material response to stresses and is cast in terms of the stress state of the material (from which the motions follow); in the Earth, stresses are less well known than the kinematics and much is likely to be learned from plasticity models which are founded on the kinematics of surface motions.


More information in the Research section of my website



  1. Yang, T, Moresi, L, Zhao, D., Sandiford, D. Whittaker, J., Cenozoic lithospheric deformation in Northeast Asia and the rapidly-aging Pacific plate,
    Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2018), 492, 1-11
  2. Miller, M. S.  L. Moresi, Mapping the Alaskan Moho, Seismological Research Letters (2018) 89 (6): 2430-2436.
  3. Garber, J. M., Maurya, S., Hernandez, J.‐A., Duncan, M. S., Zeng, L., Zhang, H. L., et al (2018). Multidisciplinary constraints on the abundance of diamond and eclogite in the cratonic lithosphere. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 19, 2062–2086.
  4. Beall, A., Moresi, L. Cooper, C. M. Formation of cratonic lithosphere during the initiation of plate tectonics,Geology (2018) 46 (6): 487-490.
  5. J Pall, S Zahirovic, S Doss, R Hassan, KJ Matthews, J Cannon, M Gurnis, The influence of carbonate platform interactions with subduction zone volcanism on palaeo-atmospheric CO_2 since the Devonian, Climate of the Past (2018), 14 (6), 857-870
  6. B. Mather, S. McLaren, D. Taylor, S. Roy, and L. Moresi (2018), Variations and controls on crustal thermal regimes in Southeastern Australia, Tectonophysics, 723, 261–276, doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2017.12.015.
  7. Mondy, L. S., P. F. Rey, G. Duclaux, and L. Moresi, The role of asthenospheric flow during rift propagation and breakup, Geology, 46(2), 103–106, doi:10.1130/G39674.1, (2017).
  8. Yang, T., L. Moresi, D. Müller, and M. Gurnis, Oceanic Residual Topography Agrees With Mantle Flow Predictions at Long Wavelengths, Geophys. Res. Lett., 152(3), 566–28, doi:10.1002/2017GL074800, (2017).
  9. A. Beall, L. Moresi, T. Stern, Dripping or Delamination? A Range of Mechanisms for Removing the Lower Crust or Lithosphere, Geophysical Journal International, 210 (2), 671-692, (2017).
  10. Cooper, C. M., M. S. Miller, and L. Moresi, The structural evolution of the deep continental lithosphere, Tectonophysics, 695, 1–89, doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2016.12.004, (2016).
  11. O’Neill, C., A. Lenardic, M. Weller, L. Moresi, S. Quenette, and S. Zhang (2016), A window for plate tectonics in terrestrial planet evolution? Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 255, 80–92, doi:10.1016/j.pepi.2016.04.002.
  12. W. Sharples, L. N. Moresi, M Velic, M. A. Jadamec, D. A. May, Simulating faults and plate boundaries with a transversely isotropic plasticity model. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors 252, 77-90 (2016).
  13. Sharples, W., L. N. Moresi, M. A. Jadamec, and J. Revote, Styles of rifting and fault spacing in numerical models of crustal extension, Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth, 120(6), 4379–4404, doi:10.1002/2014JB011813 (2015).