Caroline M. Eakin
The 2022 Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award is awarded to Caroline M. Eakin for exceptional observational seismologist skills, developing unique seismological insights into the mantle expression of plate tectonics and plate boundary processes.
Caroline Eakin is an exceptionally talented observational seismologist who has made significant contributions to our understanding of upper mantle deformation and dynamics beneath plate boundaries. Her research focuses on integrating surface expressions of plate tectonics with patterns of mantle flow and deformation at depth through innovative analyses of seismic anisotropy. Her high-profile work has included :
(i) characterising the mantle’s response to large-scale flat-slab subduction and its important role in generating widespread deformation of the Earth’s surface and landscape (GRL, 2014; EPSL, 2014; 2015),
(ii) the internal deformation of subducting slabs as they descend through the Earth with implications for slab strength and rheology (Nat. Geo., 2016; GRL, 2020),
(iii) the first global observational study of seismic anisotropy beneath oceanic transform faults, revealing unexpected evidence for widespread upwelling and thus a warmer weaker plate boundary (JGR, 2018).
Much of this research is based on extensive field deployments of broadband seismic arrays, often in remote and challenging environments such as the Australian outback, Peruvian Andes, and the Southern Ocean. To date, Eakin has devoted over eight months of her time to nine different seismic deployments, across three continents and two oceans, generating invaluable datasets which are freely available to the community.
Less than a year after finishing her PhD at Yale, Eakin was hired by her current institution, the Research School of Earth Sciences at ANU, becoming one of the youngest continuing (i.e. tenured) faculty members ever hired at RSES. Since then while building and leading her own research group, she has achieved notable grant successes (including a prestigious early-career DECRA fellowship) and awards for teaching excellence. This was recognised in a successful promotion to Senior Lecturer at the end of last year. Her current endeavours include leading her own passive-seismic array of 40 stations in central Australia (FDSN network: 5G) to study continental deformation along craton margins, and as a chief investigator on a landmark deployment of the Australian ocean-bottom seismometer fleet around the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, which aims to reveal upper mantle processes associated with subduction initiation.
To conclude, Caroline Eakin is a rising star, undergoing a rapid progression from PhD to faculty to academic promotion, while along the way developing unique seismological insights into the mantle expression of plate tectonics and plate boundary processes. She is a worthy recipient of this year’s EGU Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award demonstrated not just by the quality of scientific outputs, but including competitive grant successes, recognition of teaching innovation, and supervisory mentorship.