Expert on plate tectonics to deliver Silliman Memorial Lecture

Dan McKenzie, professor of geophysics at the University of Cambridge and a pioneer in the development of the principles of plate tectonics, will deliver the Mrs. Hepsa Ely Silliman Memorial Lecture.

Titled “Plates and Earthquakes: Why We Expect a Million Deaths This Century,” the lecture will begin at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28 in the auditorium of Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Ave.

McKenzie wrote the first papers that defined the principles of plate tectonics, arguably the most important theory in the history of geological science. This theory provides a unified explanation for a broad range of geological phenomena including earthquakes, volcanism, and mountain building as a result of horizontal relative motion of a strong surface layer called “plate.” McKenzie’s contributions include a geometrical model for motions of “plates” and physical models of processes in the Earth’s interior behind a variety of geological activities based on the fundamental principles of physics and chemistry.

For his contributions to the theory of plate tectonics and other areas such as convection inside of the Earth, formation of sedimentary basins, and the processes of magma generation, McKenzie has received numerous awards including the Fellow of the Royal Society, the Wollaston Medal, the Japan Prize, the Bowie Medal, the Crafoord Prize, the Order of the Companions of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II, and the Copley Medal.

Established in 1901, the Silliman Memorial Lectures series is the oldest at Yale. It was established by a bequest from Augustus Ely Silliman of Brooklyn, New York, in honor of his mother, Hepsa Ely Silliman.