Brian L.N. Kennett
The 2007 Beno Gutenberg Medal is awarded to Brian L.N. Kennett for his theoretical work on the development of methods for understanding seismic wave propagation in complex media in physical terms. His publications show an unusual combination of observational and theoretical skills and geodynamic insight.
Professor B.L.N Kennett is currently Professor of Seismology and, from September 2006, Director of the Research School of Earth Sciences of the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences (1994), Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (1988), an Associate of the Royal Astronomical Society (1996) and a Fellow of the Royal Society – London (2005). He served as an Editor of Geophysical Journal International for 20 years from 1979-1999 and as Editor of Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors from 2003-2006. He has recently completed a term as President of the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior (IASPEI). He received the Jaeger Medal for Australian Earth Sciences (2005), from the Australian Academy of Sciences, and the Murchison Medal (2006), from the Geological Society of London.
His research has made major contributions to the understanding of the structure of the Earth and its internal processes through the use of seismological techniques over a wide range of scales. Joint seismic tomography using arrival times of P and S waves has provided new insights into the nature of global heterogeneity within the earth’s mantle and in particular to the character of subduction zones and their penetration into the deep Earth. He has lead a long term campaign of portable instrument deployments in Australia to provide a comprehensive synthesis of 3-D seismic structure on the Upper Mantle from many strands of information that provides new insights into lithospheric and asthenospheric structure.
Kennett has also made major contributions through the development of reference models for the earth (iasp91 – 1991; ak135 – 1995) that have allowed significant improvements in the location of seismic events and seismic phase association. The models, and reprocessed data sets, form the foundation of high-resolution global traveltime tomography and are widely used in other contexts.