Geophysicist Maps North America’s Oldest Mountain Range
Clare Boothe Luce Lecturer Studies Earthquakes to Better Understand Appalachian Formation
Date Published: March 20, 2017
The eastern United States continental margin has undergone two full supercontinental
cycles over the last billion years. Mapping out this hugely under-studied terrain,
Maggie Benoit, associate professor of physics at the College of New Jersey, joins
the University of Dallas this Thursday, March 23, for the Clare Boothe Luce Lecture Series. Benoit’s lecture, "Through Thick and Thin: Using Distant Earthquakes to Image the
Earth Beneath the Central Appalachian Mountains," will be at 5 p.m. in the SB Hall
“Students who are fascinated by the powerful forces of nature should enjoy this talk
immensely,” said Professor of Physics and Department Chairwoman Sally Hicks, who happened
to share a bus ride with Benoit at a physics teachers’ workshop in Maryland last year.
“Because I found her to be so engaging and dynamic — and a highly successful woman
in physics — I asked her if she would be interested in being our speaker for the Clare
Boothe Luce this spring.”
Benoit currently serves as program director for the National Science Foundation's
EarthScope Program, which explores the four-dimensional structure of the North American
continent. She received her doctorate in geophysics from Pennsylvania State University,
after which she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute
During her lecture, Benoit will present seismic and electromagnetic analyses gathered
from the MAGIC EarthScope Flex Array, composed of 27 STS-2 seismic broadband and magnetotelluric
(MT) stations stretching from Richmond, Virginia, to Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Benoit has studied everything from the motion of our Earth’s mantle — below eastern
Africa and the Arabian Shield on the flanks of the Red Sea — to magma flow in the
Bermuda Islands and, of course, the geophysics deep below the Appalachian Mountains.
Her interests include earthquake seismology, plate tectonics and environmental geophysics.
“This leading geophysicist is going to talk about mountains that were formed by the
collision of two major tectonic plates — mountains that then eroded only to grow again
by forces that are not completely understood,” said Hicks. “I predict students will
walk away mentally refreshed from this lecture, thinking about possibilities in areas
from poetry to the amazing things one can do with waves.”
Have more questions after the lecture? Join Benoit on Friday, March 24, from 7:30
- 9:30 a.m., for an open breakfast Q & A in the Haggar Cafeteria.
Part of the Clare Boothe Luce Program at UD, this lecture series invites successful female scientists, engineers and mathematicians
to campus each semester to deliver a lecture on their research.
RSVP to attend. Seating is limited.