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Geosciences and Geology

Research Centers

Scripps Polar Center

The Scripps Polar Center brings together scientists from the three research sections of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. They investigate everything from ocean physics to the ecology of polar organisms. They address the complex questions of today's polar regions while training a new generation of scientists capable of interdisciplinary research.

Research Areas


The study of the earth's changing magnetic field at geological and societal time scales, especially through the analysis of remnant magnetism in rocks and human artifacts.

Geomagnetism, Paleomagnetism

The study of how the landscape changes over time, particularly by using geochemical techniques, fieldwork and remote sensing.


The study of how the the landscape changes over time, particularly by using geochemical techniques, fieldwork, and remote sensing.

Instrumentation and Observational Networks

Instruments and systems used to measure and monitor changes in the earth, from seismometers to strainmeters, satellites to infrasound arrays.

Isotopic Geochemistry

Using radioactive isotope systems to determine the age and origins of minerals and rocks, primarily as tracers of magmatic processes and the evolution of the earth.

Marine Geology and Geophysics

Understanding the oceans' geomorphology, sedimentation, stratigraphy, volcanism, structural geology, tectonics and geological history and the forces that affect them.

Past Climate Change

Researching how earth's climate changed in past eras by studying ocean sediment cores, ice cores and other scientific evidence.

Labs, Projects, Programs and Collaborations

ANZA Network

The ANZA network monitors Southern California earthquakes.

International Deployment of Accelerometers (Project IDA)

The International Deployment of Accelerometers (Project IDA) is a global network of broadband seismometers operated by the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. IDA is an element of the IRIS/USGS Global Seismographic Network (GSN) financially supported by the US National Science Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Foundation for Earth Science. There are currently 40 broadband stations deployed worldwide.

Geological Collections

The collection holds about 7,500 deep ocean cores, more than 3,500 deep-sea dredges, approximately 40,000 slides of marine microfossils in the main rock and core collections and about 10,000 samples of rocks and fossils in the teaching collection.

Geological Data Center (GDC)

The role of the Geological Data Center at Scripps Institution of Oceanography is to archive and provide access to oceanographic data, particularly from SIO vessels. Launched initially by Bill Menard, the GDC has been operating for more than 40 years. While many historic physical artifacts are carefully preserved, the current emphasis is on digital archiving in coordination with other national and international programs.

Paleomagnetic Laboratory

The main function of the Scripps Paleomagnetic Laboratory is to analyze the magnetic properties of rocks. This is done with the purpose of deciphering the ancient geomagnetic field to aid geological research.

Scripps Orbit and Permanent Array Center (OPAC)

Scripps Orbit and Permanent Array Center (OPAC) researches, analyzes and archives geodetic and seismic data to study earthquakes and tsunamis, tectonic plate motion and structural monitoring.

US Array

The US Array project deployed a series of portable broadband seismic stations across the continental United States from 2004 to 2015. The stations were deployed for approximately two years, starting in 2004 on the western side of the United States. After that, the network migrated eastward, reusing components from previously deployed stations.

Featured Researchers and Professors

Neal Driscoll

Professor, Geology and Geophysics 

Neal Driscoll researches tectonic deformation and the evolution of landscapes and seascapes. His work primarily focuses on the sediment record to understand the processes that shaped the earth. As part of this research, Driscoll spends time at sea acquiring images of the seafloor and subsurface layers to understand the processes that shape Earth.

Helen Amanda Fricker

Professor Geophysics in the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Co-Director of Scripps Polar Center

Helen Amanda Fricker studies ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland and their role in the climate system. She uses a combination of satellite radar and laser altimetry, and other remote-sensing data to understand ice sheet processes. She is widely recognized for her discovery of active subglacial lakes. She has shown that these lakes form dynamic hydrologic systems. She is also known for her innovative research into Antarctic ice shelves processes such as iceberg calving and basal melting and freezing.

Jeffrey Gee

Professor, Geophysics

Jeffrey Gee’s research focuses on the use of magnetic data, both remotely sensed magnetic anomaly data and the magnetization of rock samples, to understand various geological problems. He uses the magnetic record in geological samples to study topics ranging from the formation of new crust at oceanic spreading centers to the processes of melt redistribution and cooling in large magma chambers. Gee is particularly interested in using marine magnetic anomaly data and complementary data from seafloor samples to document past fluctuations in geomagnetic intensity.

Jeffrey Severinghaus

Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Jeff Severinghaus’ current research interests center on using trapped bubbles of gases contained in ice cores to track changes in ancient climate.

Jane Willenbring

Associate Professor, Geosciences; Director, Scripps Cosmogenic Isotope Laboratory

Jane Willenbring uses geochemical tools, such as cosmogenic nuclides, to study the evolution of the earth’s surface, especially how landscapes are affected by tectonics, climate change and life.