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Plate Tectonics and Great Earthquakes

50 Years of Earth-Shaking Events

Lynn R. Sykes played a key role in the birth of plate tectonics, conducting revelatory research on earthquakes. In this book, he gives an invaluable insider’s perspective on the theory’s development and its implications.

Author Information

Lynn R. Sykes is Higgins Professor Emeritus of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. His application of earthquake science to monitoring underground explosions was crucial to treaties limiting nuclear testing. He is the author of Silencing the Bomb: One Scientist’s Quest to Halt Nuclear Testing (Columbia, 2017).


Rob Wesson, former chief, USGS Office of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Engineering, and author of Darwin’s First Theory: Exploring Darwin’s Quest for a Theory of Earth:
A leader in the plate tectonic revolution, Sykes also spearheaded studies of earthquake hazards and prediction for five decades. His unvarnished reflections and insights will captivate anyone intrigued by the irregular rhythms and spasms of the earth or curious about the scientists who strive to decipher them.

Martin Reyners, GNS Science, New Zealand:
Lynn R. Sykes is world-renowned for his contributions to seismology. In this retrospective, he reflects on his fruitful scientific journey, from reading lots of seismograms and making fundamental contributions to the theory of plate tectonics and the understanding of great earthquakes, to the public policy implications of his earthquake research.

Peter Molnar, Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder:
Lynn Sykes, one of the scientific revolutionaries who gave us plate tectonics, tells his story, with special emphasis on earthquake prediction. Although earthquake prediction has been a topic perceived by some as pursued only by “fools and charlatans,” Sykes defends it not only as worthy of pursuit but also, however imperfect, as likely to be societally valuable.

Daniel Davis, Stony Brook University:
A personal, firsthand tour through one of the great scientific revolutions of the past several centuries, from a major contributor to that revolution.

Rick Aster, Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University:
Plate Tectonics and Great Earthquakes is an enjoyable read about Lynn Sykes's firsthand experiences and historic contributions to seismology and to the world-shaking development of plate tectonics.

Audience: General/trade;