Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Catherine A Rychert


Primary position:
Associate Professor in Geophysics


The University of Southampton
Dr Catherine A Rychert's photo

2011 – present lecturer of geophysics University of Southampton
2009 – 2011 NERC fellow University of Bristol
2007 – 2009 postdoc Scripps Institution of Oceanography
2007 Ph.D. Brown University, Seismic Imaging of the physical and chemical properties of the mantle: The lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary beneath eastern North America and the mantle wedge beneath Costa Rica and Nicaragua
2004 M.S. Brown University, Geological Sciences
2001 B.A. magna cum laude Boston University, Studies in Physics and Geophysics


The University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints)


Armitage, John J., Ferguson, David J., Goes, Saskia, Hammond, James O.S., Calais, Eric, Rychert, Catherine A. and Harmon, Nicholas (2015) Upper mantle temperature and the onset of extension and break-up in Afar, Africa. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 418, 78-90. (doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.02.039).
Rychert, Catherine A. (2015) Earth science: The slippery base of a tectonic plate. Nature, 518, (7537), 39-40. (doi:10.1038/518039a).
Rychert, C.A., Harmon, N. and Schmerr, N. (2014) Synthetic waveform modelling of SS precursors from anisotropic upper-mantle discontinuities. Geophysical Journal International, 196, (3), 1694-1705. (doi:10.1093/gji/ggt474).
Rychert, Catherine A., Harmon, Nicholas and Ebinger, Cynthia (2014) Receiver function imaging of lithospheric structure and the onset of melting beneath the Galápagos Archipelago. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 388, 156-165. (doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2013.11.027).
Harmon, N., de la Cruz, M.S., Rychert, C.A., Abers, G. and Fischer, K. (2013) Crustal and mantle shear velocity structure of Costa Rica and Nicaragua from ambient noise and teleseismic Rayleigh wave tomography. Geophysical Journal International, 195, (2), 1300-1313. (doi:10.1093/gji/ggt309).
Rychert, Catherine A., Laske, Gabi, Harmon, Nicholas and Shearer, Peter M. (2013) Seismic imaging of melt in a displaced Hawaiian plume. Nature Geoscience, 6, (8), 657-660. (doi:10.1038/ngeo1878).
Rychert, Catherine A., Hammond, James O.S., Harmon, Nicholas, Kendall, J. Michael , Keir, Derek, Ebinger, Cynthia, Bastow, Ian D., Ayele, Atalay, Belachew, Manahloh and Stuart, Graham (2012) Volcanism in the Afar Rift sustained by decompression melting with minimal plume influence. Nature Geoscience, 5, (6), 406-409. (doi:10.1038/ngeo1455).
Rychert, Catherine A., Schmerr, Nicholas and Harmon, Nicholas (2012) The Pacific lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary: Seismic imaging and anisotropic constraints from SS waveforms. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 13, Q0AK10. (doi:10.1029/2012GC004194).
Wada, Ikuko, Rychert, Catherine A. and Wang, Kelin (2011) Sharp thermal transition in the forearc mantle wedge as a consequence of nonlinear mantle wedge flow. Geophysical Research Letters, 38, (13), L13308. (doi:10.1029/2011GL047705).
Shearer, Peter M., Rychert, Catherine A. and Liu, Qinya (2011) On the visibility of the inner-core shear wave phase PKJKP at long periods. Geophysical Journal International, 185, (3), 1379-1383. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2011.05011.x).
Rychert, Catherine A. and Shearer, Peter M. (2011) Imaging the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary beneath the Pacific using SS waveform modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, (B7), B07307. (doi:10.1029/2010JB008070).
Rychert, Catherine A., Shearer, Peter M. and Fischer, Karen M. (2010) Scattered wave imaging of the lithosphere–asthenosphere boundary. Lithos, 120, (1-2), 173-185. (doi:10.1016/j.lithos.2009.12.006).
Fischer, Karen M., Ford, Heather A., Abt, David L. and Rychert, Catherine A. (2010) The Lithosphere-Asthenosphere Boundary. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 38, (1), 551-575. (doi:10.1146/annurev-earth-040809-152438).
Ford, Heather A., Fischer, Karen M., Abt, David L., Rychert, Catherine A. and Elkins-Tanton, Linda T. (2010) The lithosphere–asthenosphere boundary and cratonic lithospheric layering beneath Australia from Sp wave imaging. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 300, (3-4), 299-310. (doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2010.10.007).
Harmon, Nicholas, Rychert, Catherine and Gerstoft, Peter (2010) Distribution of noise sources for seismic interferometry. Geophysical Journal International, 183, (3), 1470-1484. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04802.x).
Rychert, Catherine A. and Shearer, Peter M. (2010) Resolving crustal thickness using SS waveform stacks. Geophysical Journal International, 180, (3), 1128-1137. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04497.x).
Rychert, C.A. and Shearer, P.M. (2009) A global view of the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary. Science, 324, (5926), 495-498. (doi:10.1126/science.1169754).
Harmon, Nicholas, Gerstoft, Peter, Rychert, Catherine A., Abers, Geoffrey A., Salas de La Cruz, Mariela and Fischer, Karen M. (2008) Phase velocities from seismic noise using beamforming and cross correlation in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Geophysical Research Letters, 35, L19303. (doi:10.1029/2008GL035387).
Syracuse, Ellen M., Abers, Geoffrey A., Fischer, Karen, MacKenzie, Laura, Rychert, Catherine, Protti, Marino, González, Víctor and Strauch, Wilfried (2008) Seismic tomography and earthquake locations in the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican upper mantle. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 9, (7), Q07S08. (doi:10.1029/2008GC001963).
Rychert, C.A., Fischer, K.M., Abers, G.A., Plank, T., Syracuse, E., Protti, J.M., Gonzalez, V. and Strauch, W. (2008) Strong along-arc variations in attenuation in the mantle wedge beneath Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 9, (10), Q10S10. (doi:10.1029/2008GC002040).
Rychert, Catherine A., Rondenay, Stéphane and Fischer, Karen M. (2007) P-to-S and S-to-P imaging of a sharp lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary beneath eastern North America. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, (B8), B08314. (doi:10.1029/2006JB004619).
Rychert, Catherine A., Fischer, Karen M. and Rondenay, Stéphane (2005) A sharp lithosphere–asthenosphere boundary imaged beneath eastern North America. Nature, 436, (7050), 542-545. (doi:10.1038/nature03904).


Research Interests

I seismically image the structure of the crust and upper mantle to constrain the physical and chemical properties of the Earth. I am generally interested in the evolution of ocean lithosphere, the formation of the continents, subduction zones, ridges, rifts, and hotspots.

The base of tectonic plates, the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary is a fundamental boundary in plate tectonics. However, it is not globally mapped, nor is the mechanism that defines it universally understood. The main focus of my research is investigating this boundary at high resolution on a local and global scale with receiver functions and SS bounces. I am currently working in the Afar and Ethiopain Rift Systems, and I particularly interested in imaging this boundary beneath rifts.

I am also interested in the forces that drive melting in subduction zones. Information from high density seismic arrays can help to constrain melting and volatile pathways through the mantle, in particular attenuation tomography and Vp/Vs.

Primary research group:  Geology and Geophysics

Research projects

Sailing Away: Global Seismic Imaging of the Oceanic Plates

Passive Imaging of the Lithosphere-Asthenosphere Boundary (PI-LAB)


Dr Catherine A Rychert
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute
University of Southampton
Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus
SO16 7QF

Room Number: NOCS/676/17

Telephone: (023) 8059 8663