Grace E. Shephard
The 2016 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Young Scientists is awarded to Grace E. Shephard for notable contributions to understanding links between plate-tectonic processes and mantle dynamics.
Grace Shephard excels at studying the most mobile elements of plate tectonics and the mantle forces that drive them. Her quantitative, technically rigorous approach integrates plate reconstructions and the tectonic record of continents and oceans with mantle structure as imaged by seismic tomography and with geodynamic convection modelling. Shephard has explored horizontal plate motions on a global scale and vertical motions related to dynamic topography on continental scales. Her current focus is on the subduction history of the Circum-Arctic region, an area of extreme terrane mobility over time. This region presents a most challenging setting – but one with a clear promise of breakthrough, for which Shephard is ideally positioned, thanks to her scholarly depth, cross-disciplinary scope, and comprehensive preparation. Together with co-authors, she was among the first to synthesise a new tectonic model of the Arctic that includes a thorough assessment of mantle structure and its links to surface observations. This study was extended by geodynamic modelling of mantle-driven, vertical tectonics in the Circum-Arctic region. This work has become an instant reference.
Grace Shephard is destined for a career that will stack up well against prior recipients of the EGU’s Outstanding Young Scientist Award. For her important contributions to understanding links between plate-tectonic processes and mantle dynamics through integration of plate reconstructions, seismic images of mantle structure, mantle geochemistry and geodynamic modelling of mantle convection, she is a deserving choice for this year’s award.