Earth and Environmental Sciences Faculty

Mark D. Behn

Associate Professor


My research focuses on active tectonic and magmatic processes in marine and terrestrial environments.  I use a wide range of geophysical techniques to study deformation in rocks and ice, melt generation and extraction, and volcanic processes.  Deformation and mass transport depend critically on the rheologic properties (i.e., strength) of the crust and mantle.  Thus, any quantitative study of active tectonics requires a thorough understanding of the Earth’s rheology.  My research group develops geodynamic models to relate laboratory-based rheologic and petrologic models to the large-scale behavior of the Earth.  We apply these models to a range of problems, including faulting, mantle convection, and melting and melt migration in the Earth’s mantle, as well as to societally-relevant issues, such as the dynamic response of ice sheets to climate change, global geochemical cycling, and hazards associated with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

(Note: the following list comprises Ph.D. candidates advised by Prof. Behn at his former institution, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) 
  • Stephanie Brown: Major and trace element modeling of mid-ocean ridge mantle melting from the garnet to the plagioclase stability fields: Generating local and global compositional variability
  • Fiona Clerc: Predicting global rates and distribution of carbonate melting beneath the ocean basins: Implications for the origin of the Gutenberg discontinuity
  • Hannah Mark: Seismic and numerical constraints on the formation and evolution of oceanic lithosphere
  • William Shinevar: Orogens and the Evolution of the Continental Lower Crust
  • Paris Smalls: Quantifying the Sensitivity of Rifting Processes to Erosion and Sedimentation
(Note: the following list comprises Ph.D. candidates advised by Prof. Behn at his current institution, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) 
  • Jean-Arthur Olive (Ph.D. MIT/WHOI Joint Program): Mechanical and geological controls on the long-term evolution of normal faults 
  • Laura Stevens (Ph.D. MIT/WHOI Joint Program): Influence of meltwater on Greenland ice sheet dynamics
  • Turner, A.J., R.F. Katz, M.D. Behn, and T. Keller, 2017, Magmatic focusing to mid-ocean ridges: the role of grain size variability and non-Newtonian viscosity, Geochem., Geophys., Geosys., v. 18, 4342–4355, doi:10.1002/2017GC007048.
  • Klein, B.Z., O. Jagoutz, and M.D. Behn, 2017, Archean crustal compositions promote full mantle convection, Earth Planet Sci. Lett., v. 474, 516–526, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2017.07.003.
  • Stevens, L.A., M.D. Behn, S.B. Das, I. Joughin, B.P.Y. Noël, M.R. van den Broeke, and T. Herring, 2016, Greenland Ice Sheet flow response to runoff variability, Geophys. Res. Lett. v. 43, 11,295–11,303, doi:10.1002/ 2016GL070414. 
  • Olive, J.-A., M.D. Behn, E. Mittelstaedt, G. Ito, and B.Z. Klein, 2016, The role of elasticity in simulating long-term tectonic extension, Geophys. J. Int., v. 205, 728–743, doi:10.1093/gji/ggw044.
  • Kelemen, P.B. and M.D. Behn, 2016, Formation of lower continental crust by relamination of buoyant arc lavas and plutons, Nature Geosci., v. 9, 197–205, doi:10.1038/NGEO2662.