Lunar and Planetary Institute






Dr. Walter S. Kiefer


Dr. Walter S. Kiefer

Planetary Geophysics
E-mail: kiefer@lpi.usra.edu

My research focuses on the internal structure and evolution of Mars and Venus. One major area of interest is the physics of mantle convection, which is the process of fluid flow that transports heat from a planet's interior to its surface. Mantle convection is one of the major processes the produces topography, tectonic deformation, and volcanism on a planet. My computer simulations of mantle convection are tested by comparison with observations of gravity, topography, and surface imagery obtained by NASA planetary probes. Geochemical observations of the martian meteorites are also being used to constrain models of convection on Mars.

The second main emphasis of my research is using gravity and topography observations to study the structure of the crust and lithosphere of the terrestrial planets. These models constrain the distribution of subsurface structures such as magma chambers and dikes that are associated with large volcanos and rift zones. In addition, constraints on the thickness of the crust and elastic lithosphere place constraints on the volcanic history and thermal evolution of the planets.

Dr. Kiefer's Planetary Geophysics Page

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Last updated
February 15, 2007