Join us to learn about seismology from Carnegie Staff Scientist Lara Wagner.

Although we can’t visit our planet’s interior, seismologists like Lara Wagner use seismic data to understand its makeup. She collects broadband seismology data in continental areas of the planet that have not previously been studied in this way with the goal of improving our understanding of the elastic properties of Earth’s crust and upper mantle. Seismic waves flow differently through the solid and liquid materials that comprises our planet’s layers. This knowledge allows Earth scientists to determine various aspects of planet’s interior composition depending on how these waves are affected as they travel.

Because of the inaccesability of the planet’s depths, seismology has limitations when it comes to interpreting features like temperature, melting, and exact composition. So Wagner looks at the bigger picture. She integrates her data with mineral physics and geochemistry, putting her seismological results in the broader geological context.

Before joining Carnegie as a staff member Wagner was an associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her B.A. in history and sociology at Columbia University and her Ph. D. at the University of Arizona. She received the American Geophysical Union’s Outstanding Student Paper Award in 2004; she won the Walter H. Wheeler Faculty Teaching Award in 2012; and was the Incorporated Research Institutions of Seismology/Seismology Society of America Distinguished Lecturer in 2013. For more information see

November 10, 2020