Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions remind us of the power and speed of terrestrial phenomena, with dramatic consequences for human societies.These earthquakes are the consequence of movements of the rigid and superficial part of the Earth, the crust. Yet while the revolutionary theory of plate tectonics has significantly furthered our knowledge, little is known about convection currents whose role is to facilitate the diffusion of our planet’s internal heat. The Earth’s interior is not accessible for direct observation and requires remote investigation. Prof. Romanowicz is recognized for her tremendous contributions to this field through her development of new geophysical tools to analyse the structure of the deep Earth.
Prof. Romanowicz carried out her research in various laboratories, including the Smithsonian Institution in Boston, Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris (Paris Institute of Global Physics), and MIT. She was a professor in Geophysics in Berkeley for 20 years, and created the first global digital seismometer network on the Earth and in the oceans, as well as a fully-fledged earthquake alert system in Northern California, in collaboration with the US Geological Survey.
She received the Inge Lehmann Medal of the American Geophysical Union in 2009, with the presenter commenting, “In my opinion, Barbara is the most outstanding woman seismologist after Inge Lehmann”. In 1936 Inge Lehmann had discovered the Earth’s solid inner core.
Research interests: Deep earth structure and dynamics using seismological tools: elastic and anelastic seismic tomography; waveform modelling of mantle and core phases; wave propagation in complex heterogeneous and anisotropic media; earth’s normal modes and surface waves. Earthquake processes and scaling laws. Real time estimation of earthquake parameters. Development of modern broadband seismic and geophysical observatories on land and in the oceans. Planetary seismology.