Leif Karlstrom

Leif is a creative young professor at the University of Oregon whose broad research interests span many of the most fundamental questions in volcanology. Leif uniquely blends theory and modeling with observational constraints, using process-based simulations to develop hypotheses that are tested with field and laboratory data. Leif’s most mature line of work, initiated during his Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley, examines the formation and evolution of magma chambers, with implications for the size and spacing of volcanic centers and the thermal evolution of Earth’s crust. Leif’s understanding of the connections between volcanism, global-scale geodynamics, and tectonophysics is evident in his novel insights into classic problems like the Chicxulub impact and Deccan Traps flood basalts at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, as well as corner flow in subduction zones and associated arc volcanism and trench migration. He is presently developing a new framework for understanding the evolving topography of volcanic islands like Hawaii through coupled models of lava flows and landscape evolution. Leif is equally talented at problems and processes at vastly shorter length and time scales, as evidenced in his work, begun during his postdoc at Stanford University, on oscillations of magma in interconnected conduit and dike systems as an explanation for very long period seismic events at Kīlauea and Erebus. And, in addition to all of these volcanology projects, Leif maintains an equally impressive research program on the topographic evolution of glaciers and ice sheets by river networks on the ice surface. In honor of Leif’s scientific passion, vision, and accomplishments, we bestow upon him the 2018 Hisashi Kuno Award.

—Eric M. Dunham, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.


Thank you for the kind words, Eric. It is a great honor to receive the Hisashi Kuno Award from the Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology section of AGU. Science progresses through human interactions, and in accepting this award I would like to thank a few specific people who have helped to shape my scientific worldview thus far. My father, Karl Karlstrom, exposed me to wild places containing lots of rocks and to the full spectrum of the scientific community from an early age. Although I was not a geoscience major during my undergraduate education, while I was a student Eugene Humphreys first excited me about mathematical modeling of Earth processes. My primary Ph.D. advisor, Michael Manga, remains an unquantifiable influence in my scientific life and opened the door to graduate school for me in the first place after I had been rejected by physics programs and was considering a career washing high-rise building windows. So thanks to Michael for believing in me. Mark Richards and Bill Dietrich were also influential during graduate school, suggesting research pathways that I am still pursuing today. During my postdoc, Eric Dunham set a standard for mathematical rigor and physical insight that is always with me. Paul Wallace and my current departmental colleagues make the University of Oregon an inspiring and collegial place to work. Finally, I thank my wife, Brittany Erickson, for graciously correcting my math mistakes and being a constant source of joy in my life.

—Leif Karlstrom, University of Oregon, Eugene


(2018), Karlstrom receives 2018 Hisashi Kuno Award, Eos, 99, Published on 29 November 2018.

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