Terry Plank

Most Influential Person

Geologist and volcanologist, (1963- ), Culver City, Delaware, USA

Why Is Terry Plank Influential?

Areas of Specialization: Geochemistry, Igneous Petrology
Terry Plank is professor of earth science at Columbia University and for the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. A noted volcanologist and geochemist, Plank has studied the chemistry of volcanic minerals, and studied the development and emergence of magma flows. She earned a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences from Dartmouth College and her Ph.D from Columbia University.

Her interest in volcanos dates back to her time at Dartmouth College. Her professor took her class to the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, and from there she was hooked. Her research has taken her to the Aleutian Islands, the American Southwest, Iceland, the Philippines, and throughout the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire”. Plank has published noteworthy works about how sediments from the ocean floor end up as lava, and how this change occurs.

She was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2012 and received the Geological Society of London’s Wollaston Medal in 2018. She is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, the Mineralogical Society of America and the Geochemical Society.

Her best known writing, “The chemical composition of subducting sediment and its consequences for the crust and mantle”, was published in collaboration with Charles Langmuir, her Ph.D advisor.

Academic Website

Featured in Top Influential Earth Scientists Today

According to Wikipedia, Terry Ann Plank is an American geochemist, volcanologist and professor of earth science at Columbia College, Columbia University, and the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. She is a 2012 MacArthur Fellow and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Her most prominent work involves the crystal chemistry of lava minerals in order to determine magma ages and movement, giving clues to how quickly magma can surface as lava in volcanoes. Most notably, Plank is known for her work establishing a stronger link between the subduction of ocean sediments and volcanism at ocean arcs. Her current work can be seen at her website. Plank states that her interest in volcanoes began when her Dartmouth professor took her and other students to Arenal volcano in Costa Rica. He had them sit and have lunch while on top of a slow-moving lava flow and while watching bright red goops of lava crack out from their black casings. "It was totally cool, how could you not like that?" Plank recalled the event to State of the Planet, an Earth Institute News source at Columbia University.

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