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Dr. Patrick J. McGovern

Dr. Patrick J. McGovern

Professional Background

Business Address: Lunar and Planetary Institute
3600 Bay Area Blvd
Houston, TX 77058
Phone: 281-486-2187
Fax: 281-486-2162


S. B., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986.

Graduate work, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, UCLA, 1987-1988.

Ph. D., Geophysics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1996.  Thesis title: "Studies of Large Volcanoes on the Terrestrial Planets: Implications for Stress State, Tectonics, Structural Evolution, and Moat Filling".


Research Assistant, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, September 1988-May 1996.

Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC, June 1996-October 1999.

Staff Scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), Houston, TX, November 1999-present.


Adjunct Faculty, Rice University, Department of Earth Science (Associate Professor rank since 2009)......................................................2004–present

Stephen E. Dwornik Student Paper Award (Best Poster Presentation) Lunar and Planetary Science Conference ............................................1993

Luis De Florez Award (Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT) ............................................................................................1986


Co-convener of Special Session “Volcanism Associated with Impact Basins in the Solar System” at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting.

Co-convener of Topical Session “Advances in Discontinuum Modeling in the Study of Earth Structure and Deformation” at the 2008 GSA Meeting.

Guest Editor of Special Section of GRL: “The Hemispheric Dichotomy of Mars”, 2006.

Co-convener of Workshop on “Hemispheres Apart: The Origin and Modification of the Martian Crustal Dichotomy”, LPI Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2004.

Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) Program Committees, 2000-2001, 2008-2009, 2011.

Judge for GSA Dwornik Student Paper Award at LPSC, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2013.

Numerous NASA grant program review panels: PIDDP, PG&G*, MDAP*, MFRP, OPRP*.
(* indicates full or acting Group Chief service.)

Chair, Joint LPI-JSC Visitors Hiring Committee (for Postdoctoral- and Visiting Scientist-level appointments), 2008-present.


American Geophysical Union

Geological Society of America


Rice University 2011, Department of Earth Science Seminar.

Trinity College Dublin 2010, Department of Geology Seminar.

AGU Fall Meeting 2009, Session V12 “Volcano-Tectonics: New Insights from Earth and Other Planets”.

Stony Brook University 2009, Department of Geosciences Colloquium.


GRAIL Guest Scientist, 2012-2014.

RAVEN (RADARSAT Venus): Co-Investigator on Discovery-class mission to collect high-resolution imaging and topography data for Venus using the proven RADARSAT instrument.

Lunar Advanced Science and Exploration Research Program (LASER) Principal Investigator, 2013-2016. Current grant: “Volcanic and thermal evolution of the Moon: constraints from advanced numerical modeling and integrated analysis of remotely sensed datasets.”

Outer Planets Research Program (OPR) Principal Investigator, 2012–2015. Current grant: Copious volcanism on a compression-dominated planet? Insights into magma ascent and mountain building on Io from advanced numerical modeling.

Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program (PG&G) Principal Investigator, 2005–2015. Current grant: Growth and Evolution of Large Volcanoes on Venus: Insights from Advanced Numerical Modeling of Lithospheric Response to Volcanic Loading.

NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) Co-Investigator, 2009–2013. Modeling topographic relaxation of impact basins for current grant “Impact Processes in the Origin Evolution of the Moon: New Sample-driven Perspectives.”

Mars Data Analysis Program (MDAP) Principal Investigator, 2002–2013.Current grant: Structural Characterization and Evolution of Large Volcanoes on Mars with Insights from Numerical Simulations.

Mars Global Surveyor, MOLA altimeter team: contributed to 8 team papers (3 as lead author).

Magellan (Venus): analyzed radar image, topography, and gravity data, 2 papers as lead author.


Rice University, Dept. of Earth Science:
Taught 5 classes: ESci 214 “The Planets”, 2005-2007; ESci 524 “Advanced Topics in Earth Structure and Deformation” (Planetary Tectonics Seminar), 2009; ESci 525 “Volcanoteconics” (Seminar), 2010; ESci 529 “The Moon: Origin and Evolution” (Seminar), 2012; ESci 541 “Mars: Formation, Differentiation, Structure, and Evolution” (Seminar), 2013; ESci 456 Planetary Volcanism (Seminar), 2014.

Served as M. S. thesis Co-Advisor for graduate student Lindsay (Farrell) Zivney and Ph. D. Exam Committee member for graduate student Constantin Sandu.

Serving as Ph.D. co-advisor for graduate students Matthew Weller and Jennifer Hero.

Trinity College Dublin, Dept. of Geology:
Ph.D. Viva (Thesis Defense) Examination Committee: External Examiner for Paul Byrne, “Volcano Flank Terraces on Mars”, February 2010.

Lunar and Planetary Institute Summer Intern Program:
Supervised undergraduate students Alex Dickie, 2000; Margarita Marinova, 2001; Martin Collier, 2002; Donielle Chittenden, 2003; Selby Cull, 2004; Elise Rumpf, 2006; Mairi Litherland* 2008; Jennifer Buz, 2009; Katelyn Verner, 2010; Kathryn Powell, 2011; Jessica Kalynn, 2012; Laura Corley, 2013.
* indicates winner of prestigious GSA Dwornik Award for Best Student Poster (Undergraduate Division) at the 2009 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.


(* indicates Science “Editor’s Choice” selection, § indicates Nature Geoscience “Research Highlight”).

McGovern, P. J., and M. M. Litherland, Lithospheric stress-induced magma ascent and the distribution of dense lunar basalts, in preparation, 2014.

Weller, M. B., P. J. McGovern, T. Fournier, and J. K. Morgan, Eastern Olympus Mons Basal Scarp and Aureole Lobes: Structural and Mechanical Evidence for Large Scale Slope Instability, J. Geophys. Res., in revision, 2014.

Öhman, T., and P. J. McGovern, Circumferential graben and the structural evolution of Alba Mons, Mars, Icarus, 233, 114-125, 2014.

McGovern, P. J., G. A. Galgana, K. R. Verner, and R. R. Herrick, New constraints on volcano-tectonic evolution of large edifices on Venus from stereo topography-derived strain estimates, Geology, 42, 59-62, 2014.

McGovern, P. J., E. B. Grosfils, G. A. Galgana, J. K. Morgan, M. E. Rumpf, J. R. Smith, and J. R. Zimbelman, Lithospheric flexure: The key to the structural evolution of large volcanic edifices on the terrestrial planets, in Platz, T., Massironi, M., Byrne, P. K. & Hiesinger, H. (eds) Volcanism and Tectonism Across the Inner Solar System. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 401,, 2013.

Grosfils, E. B., P. J. McGovern, P. M. Gregg, G. A. Galgana, D. M. Hurwitz, S. M. Long, and S. R. Chestler, Elastic Models of Magma Reservoir Mechanics: A Key Tool for Investigating Planetary Volcanism, in Platz, T., Massironi, M., Byrne, P. K. & Hiesinger, H. (eds) Volcanism and Tectonism Across the Inner Solar System. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 401, 2013.

McGovern, P. J., M. E. Rumpf, and J. R. Zimbelman, The influence of lithospheric flexure and volcano shape on magma ascent at large volcanoes on Venus, J. Geophys. Res., 118, doi:10.1002/2013JE004455, 2013.

Galgana, G. A., E. B. Grosfils, and P. J. McGovern, Radial Dike Formation on Venus: Insights from Models of Uplift, Flexure and Magmatism, Icarus, 225, 538–547, 2013.

Spudis, P. D., P. J. McGovern and W. S. Kiefer, Large shield volcanoes on the Moon, J. Geophys. Res., 118, doi:10.1002/jgre.20059, 2013.

Potter, R. W. K., D. A. Kring, G. S. Collins, W. S. Kiefer, and P. J. McGovern, Relating transient crater radius and the annular crustal bulge in lunar basins: A new method for transient crater size estimation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, doi:10.1029/2012GL052981, 2012.

Schwenzer, S. P. et al. (including P. J. McGovern), Gale Crater: Formation and Post-Impact Hydrous Environments, Planet. Space Sci., doi:10.1016/j.pss.2012.05.014, 2012.

Potter, R. W. K., Collins, G. S., Kiefer, W. S., McGovern, P. J., and Kring, D. A., Constraining the size of the South Pole-Aitken Basin Impact, Icarus, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2012.05.032, 2012.

Sandu, C., A. Lenardic, and P. McGovern, The effects of volatile cycling on planetary thermal evolution, J. Geophys. Res., 116, doi:10.1029/2011JB008405, 2011.

Ruiz, J., P. J. McGovern, A. Jimenez-Diaz, v. Lopez, J.-P. Williams, B. C. Hahn, and R. Tejero,  The thermal evolution of Mars as constrained by paleo-heat flows, Icarus, 215, 508-517, 2011.

§Galgana, G. A., P. J. McGovern and E. B. Grosfils, Evolution of large Venusian volcanoes: Insights from coupled models of lithospheric flexure and magma reservoir pressurization, J. Geophys. Res., 116, doi:10.1029/2010JE003654, 2011.

Monsalve, G., P. McGovern, and A. Sheehan, Mantle fault zones beneath the Himalayan collision: flexure of the continental lithosphere, Tectonophysics, 477, (special issue on “Continental Collision, Partial Melting and Ductile Deformation in the Tibetan-Himalayan Orogenic Belt”), 66-76, 2009.

McGovern, P. J., and J. K. Morgan, Volcanic spreading and lateral variations in the structure of Olympus Mons, Mars, Geology, 37, 139-142, 2009.

*McGovern, P. J., Flexural stresses beneath Hawaii: Implications for the October 15, 2006, earthquakes and magma ascent, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L23305, doi:10.1029/2007GL031305, 2007.

*McGovern, P. J., J. R. Smith, J. K. Morgan and M. H. Bulmer, The Olympus Mons aureole deposits: New evidence for a flank-failure origin, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2004JE002258, 2004.

McGovern, P. J., et al., Localized gravity/topography admittance and correlation spectra on Mars: Implications for regional and global evolution, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2002JE001854, 2002.


G. S. Collins, R. W. K. Potter, D. A. Kring, W. S. Kiefer, P. J. McGovern, Modelling the South Pole-Aitken Basin Impact, Nördlingen 2010: The Ries Crater, the Moon, and the Future of Human Space Exploration, abstract 7023, 2010.

Buz, J., and P. McGovern, Venusian volcano shapes: Implications for edifice evolution and the internal thermal state of Venus, Lunar Planet. Sci., 41, 1482, 2010.

Wilkinson, M. J., and McGovern, P. J., Megafans and Paleo-megafans in Amazonis and Northwest Tharsis: Implicatons for Fluvial Processes, Surface Geology, and Spreading of the Olympus Mons Volcano, Lunar Planet. Sci., 41, abstract 2253, 2010.


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Last updated
May 5, 2014