CIDER Summer 2016 group photo

CIDER Summer Program 2014

"Dynamics of Planetary Interiors"
June 22 to August 1, 2014,
KITP, Santa Barbara (CA)

Summer 2014 Overview (Registration for this program closed Feb 1, 2014.)

Earth is a dynamic planet with two separate convecting domains, the rocky outer shell (the mantle) and inner metallic core, both of which are driven by a combination of primordial and radiogenic heat sources. These sources power a host of geological processes including the geodynamo, plate tectonics, mountain building, volcanism and degassing of volatiles to the atmosphere, all of which are familiar surface expressions of the internal dynamics. The purpose of CIDER 2014 is to bring together scientists from different disciplines to better understand how the complex interplay of processes in the interior of Earth and other terrestrial planets shape the internal structure of these bodies and govern their longterm evolution.

Science motivation for 2014 CIDER Summer Program

The CIDER summer program will address two aspects of planetary dynamics. The first part of the program will focus on models for the present-day convective flow and the criteria used to assess these models. Common constraints include the gravity field, plate motions, heat flow, surface topography, the three-dimensional structure of variations in elastic wave speeds, and the composition of meteorites, terrestrial samples and bulk planets. Additional information can be inferred from maps of seismic anisotropy, deflections in the depth of solid-state phase transition, and the seismicity of subducted oceanic plates that project into the mantle from ocean trenches. Less conventional constraints might include the curvature of trenches or paleomagnetic evidence for true polar wander. The overarching goal is to assess uncertainties and identify areas where future progress is required, both in the models and in the observations.

The second part of the program will deal with the interplay of processes that govern the evolution of mantle flow over geological time. What are the conditions for the onset of plate tectonics and when did this occur? How are new subduction zones initiated and what controls the reorganization of plate motions? How has heat flow varied over the age of the Earth? Has the Earth always had a magnetic field? Few direct observations are available, so greater reliance is placed on more indirect connections between models and measurements. For example, geochemical measurements of isotopic heterogeneity in basalt reveal distinct and persistent reservoirs in the mantle. The origin and spatial distribution of these reservoirs is not known, although secular trends in the chemistry of ancient lava flows provide constraints on the temporal evolution of at least some of these reservoirs. However, the persistence of these reservoirs appears to be inconsistent with estimates of convective mixing, based on models of present-day flow in the mantle. Such inconsistencies imply shortcomings in our understanding of the present-day dynamics and/or the evolution of these dynamic processes back in time. An analogous inconsistency arises in the thermal history of the Earth when cosmochemical abundances of heat-producing elements are combined with conventional models of convection. These inconsistencies reflect an incomplete understanding of planetary dynamics.

Recent advances across the disciplines motivate the proposed CIDER program. Refinements in seismological methods now provide more reliable images of the threedimensional elastic structure of the mantle, particularly at the largest scales. At the same time advances in our understanding of the physical properties of Earth materials at high pressure and temperature give us new insights into physical processes and better constrain numerical simulations. For example, a recent revision in the transport properties of liquid iron at high pressure and temperature has overturned the convention view of convection in Earth’s core and raised questions about how a field was generated early in the history of our planet. Interdisciplinary collaborations in the emerging field of neutrino geophysics have provided insights into the abundance and distribution of heat producing elements (Th & U) in the Earth.

Advances in computing have also enabled dramatic improvements in the numerical simulation of complex processes. Increasingly, numerical simulations are combined with data assimilation schemes and inverse methods to constrain initial conditions, estimate model parameters or identify missing physical components in the models. This emerging trend offers better integration of data and models, but it also imposes greater demands on both the models and the data. The limitations and uncertainties in the models and the observations need to be understood and quantified, requiring greater coordination across the disciplines. The proposed program will focus a broad base of expertise on several long-standing problems. The format is unique in that it enables in-depth discussion of competing ideas from a multidisciplinary perspective.


  • Bruce Buffett (Univ. of California, Berkeley)
  • Quentin Williams (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz)
  • Bill McDonough (Univ. of Maryland)
  • Barbara Romanowicz (Univ. of California, Berkeley and College de France, Paris)

As in previous CIDER summer programs, the program will be structured as follows:
Weeks 1-2 (June 22 to July 5th): Informal, unstructured program for participants at the assistant professor level or higher
Weeks 3-6 (July 6th- August 2nd): Lectures, tutorials and workshop open to advaned graduate students and post-docs, as well as senior participants.
A "kick-off" workshop was held at Berkeley on December 14 , 2013. The program of that workshop is available on the workshop website


Seismology: Jessica Irving (Princeton); Vedran Lekic (U. of Maryland); Philippe Lognonne (IPG Paris); Mark Panning (U. of Florida)
Geodynamics: Louise Kellogg (UC Davis); Michael Manga (UC Berkeley); Allen McNamara (Arizona State Univ.), Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni (UCL)
Mineral Physics: Paul Asimov (Caltech); Uli Faul (MIT); Kanani Lee (Yale); Wendy Panero (Ohio State), Lars Stixrude (UCL)
Geochemistry: Matt Jackson (UC Santa Barbara); Sujoy Mukhopadhyay (Harvard); Anat Shahar (Carnegie); Rich Walker (U. of Maryland); Bill White (Cornell)

See complete list of senior participants



Researchers at the assistant professor level and higher are welcome to sign up for any part of the program, and we encourage overlap between the first and second part of the program.

The unstructured part of the program is meant to facilitate interaction betw een members of the community that have burgeoning plans to develop collaborative projects. Come to CIDER to plan your CSEDI proposals!! You will have office space, access to a desktop computer and printers, a quiet environment away from your home institution, and the possibility to interact with colleagues from various disciplines in an informal way.

Graduate students and post-docs : The lecture/tutorial program is meant for graduate students that have completed their qualifying examination, as well as post-docs. Some exceptions may be granted if well justified. The lecture program is designed to bring everyone to a fundamental understanding of progress and challenging in disciplines other than their own.

Graduate students and post-docs signing up for the tutorial part (weeks 3 -6) are required to stay at least for the 4 weeks of the tutorial program. Exceptions may be considered but priority will be given to those that commit to stay for 4 weeks. During the 2nd week of lectures (week 4 of the summer program), research questions that require a multi-disciplinary approach will be formulated, and the participants will be divided up into several groups (typically 4-6), composed of a mix of junior and senior participants, and a balance of disciplines. During the following two weeks these research groups will work on defining and addressing a well focused research project. Our experience is that one week of "workshop" is not enough to get anything done, so staying for the 4th week, i.e. 2nd week of workshop, is essential. Each group will present their work/findings on the last day of the program (see presentations from previous CIDER programs). Participants will also have free time to catch up with their regular research and other duties.

Participants may bring spouses and we will do our best to accommodate families, and in particular give references for childcare. There are many programs for children on and off campus.


Travel and on-site expenses will be provided to those that stay for two weeks or longer. We cannot provide support for travel from outside of the US. However, on-site support for foreign participants will be provided.

The number of participants is limited, so early applications are encouraged!

Support for CIDER 2014 participants will be provided by the NSF/FESD program through the CIDER Synthesis Center grant to U.C. Berkeley (PI B. Romanowicz).


This summer program will be held at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics, Santa Barbara (CA), USA.

Registration is now closed.

Application deadline: February 1, 2014

Financial Assistance Information