Peter E. van Keken
Staff Scientist, Carnegie Institution of Washington


Peter van Keken has moved to the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, as of January 1, 2016.
Please send any requests about the undergraduate program (including curriculum and advising) to Prof. Jeroen Ritsema. Please send any requests about the PhD program to other faculty in the department.


MS, Utrecht University, 1989.
PhD cum Laude, Utrecht University, 1993.
    (Thesis: Numerical modeling of thermochemically driven fluid flow with non-Newtonian rheology)


Research Fellow, Army High Performance Computing Research Center, University of Minnesota (1993-1994)
Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Michigan (1994-1996)
Assistant Professor, University of Michigan (1996-2002)
Associate Professor, University of Michigan (2002-2008)
Professor, University of Michigan (2008-2015)
Staff Scientist, Carnegie Institution of Washington (2016-)

Research interests

Thermal and chemical evolution of the Earth; causes and consequences of plate tectonics;
finite element modeling of mantle convection, subduction zone dynamics and mantle plumes;
integration of geodynamics with seismology, geochemistry and mineral physics;
parallel computing; scientific visualization.

Examples of research applications

Complex toroidal flow in the mantle of the Marianas subduction zone. The grey surface is the slab; velocity arrows and streamlines indicate the flow pattern. The speed of the flow in the wedge is indicated by the size of the arrows and the color (with the legend in cm/yr). The big black arrow indicates the direction of motion of the incoming Pacific plate. The prediction of complicated flow in this subduction zone may explain observations from seismic anisotropy and geochemical output of volcanoes along this arc (Bengtson and van Keken, 2012).

Mantle convection in the Earth introduces heterogeneity through the subduction of oceanic crust (black tracers) in slabs (blue regions). As this heterogeneity warms up it mixes back into the mantle but can also form dense piles near the core-mantle boundary (dark red regions). The inner circle is the core-mantle boundary; the outer circle is the surface of the Earth. Mantle mixing calculations such as these allow for quantitative tests of scenarios that have been put forward to describe the chemical and thermal evolution of the Earth's mantle since its formation. The figure is used in Plank and van Keken (2008) with modeling described in Brandenburg et al. (2008).

Graduate students

 Debra Y. Tjoa (MSc 1997)
 Allen K. McNamara (PhD 2002)
 Erik A. Kneller (PhD 2007)
 J.P. Brandenburg (PhD 2008) PhD Thesis
 Hannah Smith (MSc 2010)
 Andrea Bossmann (MSc 2012)
 Zhangyi Hu (MSc 2013)
 Ross Maguire (PhD 2012-)
 Sam Haugland (PhD 2014-)


  Shu-Chuan "Sky" Lin (2003-2005)
  Amy Bengtson (Turner postdoc, 2008-2010)
  Manabu Morishige (2012-2013)

Publications: journal articles


  1. van den Berg, P.E., D.A. Yuen, and P.E. van Keken, Effects of depth variations on the formation of plates in mantle dynamics, Geophysical Research Letters, 18, 2197-2200, 1991.
  2. van Keken, P.E., D.A. Yuen, and A.P. van den Berg, Pulsating diapiric flows: consequences of vertical variations in mantle creep laws, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 112, 179-194, 1992.
  3. van den Berg, A.P., P.E. van Keken, D.A. Yuen, The effects of a composite non-Newtonian and Newtonian rheology on mantle convection, Geophysical Journal International, 115, 62-78, 1993.
  4. van Keken, P.E., D.A. Yuen, and A.P. van den Berg, The effects of shallow rheological boundaries in the upper mantle on inducing shorter time scales of diapiric flows, Geophysical Research Letters, 20, 1927-1930, 1993.
  5. van Keken, P.E., C.J. Spiers, A.P. van den Berg, and E.J. Muyzert, The effective viscosity of rocksalt: implementation of steady state creep laws in numerical models of salt diapirism, Tectonophysics, 225, 457-476, 1993.
  6. Vlaar, N.J., P.E. van Keken, A.P. van den Berg, Cooling of the Earth in the Archaean, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 121, 1-18, 1994.
  7. van Keken, P.E., D.A. Yuen, and A.P. van den Berg, Implications for mantle dynamics from the high melting temperature of perovskite, Science, 264, 1437-1440, 1994.


  8. van Keken, P.E., and D.A. Yuen, Dynamical influences of high viscosity in the lower mantle induced by the steep melting curve of perovskite: effects of curvature and time-dependence, Journal of Geophysical Research, 100, 15233-15248, 1995.
  9. van Keken, P.E., and C.W. Gable, The interaction of a plume with a rheological boundary: comparison between 2D and 3D models, Journal of Geophysical Research, 100, 20291-20302, 1995.
  10. van Keken, P.E., D.A. Yuen and L.R. Petzold, DASPK: A new high order and adaptive time-integration technique with applications to mantle convection with strongly temperature- and pressure-dependent rheology Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics, 80, 57-74, 1995 (PDF contains low resolution scan).
  11. van den Berg, A.P., D.A. Yuen, and P.E. van Keken, Rheological transition in mantle convection with a composite temperature dependent, non-Newtonian and Newtonian rheology, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 129, 249-260, 1995.
  12. van Keken, P.E., S. Karato, and D.A. Yuen, Rheological control of oceanic crust separation in the transition zone, Geophysical Research Letters, 23, 1821-1824, 1996.
  13. van Keken, P.E., Evolution of starting mantle plumes: a comparison between numerical and laboratory models. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 148, 1-14, 1997.
  14. van Keken, P.E., S.D. King, H. Schmeling, U.R. Christensen, D.Neumeister and M.-P. Doin. A comparison of methods for the modeling of thermochemical convection Journal of Geophysical Research, 102, 22,477-22,495, 1997.
  15. van Keken, P.E., and C.J. Ballentine, Whole-mantle versus layered mantle convection and the role of a high-viscosity lower mantle in terrestrial volatile evolution, Earth Planetary Science Letters, 156, 19-32, 1998.
  16. van Keken, P.E., and C.J. Ballentine, Dynamical models of mantle volatile evolution and the role of phase transitions and temperature-dependent rheology, Journal of Geophysical Research, 104, 7137-7151, 1999.
  17. van Keken, P.E., and Zhong, S.J., Mixing in a 3D spherical model of present day mantle convection, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 171, 533-547, 1999.
  18. 2000-2004

  19. McNamara, A.K., and P.E. van Keken, Cooling of the Earth: a parameterized convection study of whole vs. layered models, Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems, 1, 1027, doi:10.1029/2000GC000045, 2000
  20. van Keken, P.E., Cylindrical scaling for dynamical cooling models of the Earth. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 124, 119-130, 2001.
  21. Zegers, T., and van Keken, P.E., Middle Archean continent formation by crustal delamination, Geology, 29, 1083-1086, 2001.
  22. van Keken, P.E., C.J. Ballentine and D. Porcelli, A dynamical investigation of the heat and helium imbalance, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 188, 421-434, 2001.
  23. McNamara, A.K., S.I. Karato and P.E. van Keken, Localization of dislocation creep in the lower mantle: implications for seismic anisotropy, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 191, 85-99, 2001.
  24. van Keken, P.E., Hauri, E., and C.J. Ballentine, Mantle mixing: the generation, preservation, and destruction of mantle heterogeneity, Annual Review of the Earth and Planetary Sciences, 30, 493-525, 2002.
  25. McNamara, A.K., P.E. van Keken, and S.I. Karato, Development of anisotropic structure in the Earth's lower mantle by solid-state convection, Nature, 416, 310-314, 2002.
  26. van Keken, P.E., B. Kiefer, and S.M. Peacock, High resolution models of subduction zones: Implications for mineral dehydration reactions and the transport of water into the deep mantle, Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems, 3 (10), 1056, 2002. doi: 10.1029/2001GC000256.
  27. Ballentine, C.J., P.E. van Keken, D. Porcelli, and E. Hauri, Numerical models, geochemistry, and the zero paradox noble gas mantle, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, A360 (1800), 2611-2631, 2002. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2002.1083
  28. McNamara, A.K., P.E. van Keken, and S.I. Karato, Development of finite strain in the convecting lower mantle and its implications for seismic anisotropy, Journal of Geophysical Research, 108 (B5), 2003. doi: 10.1029/2002JB001970.
  29. van Keken, P.E., The structure and dynamics of the mantle wedge, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 215, 323-338, 2003.


  30. Peacock, S.M., P.E. van Keken, S.D. Holloway, B.R.Hacker, G. Abers, R.L. Fergason, Thermal structure of the Costa Rica - Nicaragua subduction zone: slab metamorphism, seismicity and arc magmatism, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 149, 187-200, 2005.
  31. Van Keken, P.E., and S.D. King, Thermal structure and dynamics of subduction zones: insights from observations and modeling, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 149, 1-6, 2005.
  32. Lin, S.-C., B.-Y. Kuo, L.-Y. Chiao, and P.E. van Keken, Thermal plume models and melt generation in East Africa: A dynamic modeling approach, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 237, 175-192, 2005.
  33. Lin, S.-C., and P.E. van Keken, Multiple volcanic episodes of flood basalts caused by thermochemical plumes, Nature, 436, 250-252, 2005. doi:10.1038/nature03697.
  34. Kneller, E.A., P.E. van Keken, S. Karato and J. Park, B-type olivine fabric in the mantle wedge: insights from high-resolution non-Newtonian subduction zone models, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 237, 781-797, 2005.
  35. Pollack, H.N., J. Smerdon, and P.E. van Keken, Variable seasonal coupling between air and ground temperatures: a simple representation in terms of subsurface thermal diffusivity, Geophysical Research Letters, 32, L15405, doi:10.1029/2005GL023869, 2005.
  36. Abers, G.A., P.E. van Keken, E.A. Kneller, A. Ferris, and J.C. Stachnik, The thermal structure of subduction zones constrained by seismic imaging: implications for slab dehydration and wedge flow, Earth Planetary Science Letters, 241, 387-397, 2006.
  37. Lin, S.-C., and P.E. van Keken, Dynamics of thermochemical plumes: 1. Plume formation and entrainment of a dense layer, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 7, Q02006, doi:10.1029/2005GC001071, 2006.
  38. Lin, S.-C., and P.E. van Keken, Dynamics of thermochemical plumes: 2. Complexity of plume structures and its implications for mapping of mantle plumes, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 7, Q03003, doi:10.1029/2005GC001072, 2006.
  39. Lin, S.-C., and P. E. van Keken, Deformation, stirring and material transport in thermochemical plumes, Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L20306, doi:10.1029/2006GL027037, 2006.
  40. Johnson, A.E., J. Leigh, P.J. Morin, P.E. van Keken, GeoWall: stereoscopic visualization for geoscience research and education, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 26, 10-14, 2006.
  41. Kneller, E.A., P.E. van Keken, I. Katayama, S. Karato, Stress, strain, and B-type olivine fabric in the fore-arc mantle: sensitivity tests using high-resolution steady state subduction zone models, Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, B04406, doi:10.1029/2006JB004544, 2007.
  42. Brandenburg, J.P., and Peter E. van Keken, Deep storage of oceanic crust in a vigorously convecting mantle, Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, B06403, doi:10.1029/2006JB004813, 2007.
  43. Brandenburg, J.P., and P.E. van Keken, Methods for thermochemical convection in Earth's mantle with force-balanced plates, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 8, Q11004, doi:10.1029/2007GC001692, 2007.
  44. Kneller, E.A., and P.E. van Keken, Trench-parallel flow and seismic anisotropy in the Marianas and Andean subduction systems, Nature, 450, 1222-1225, doi:10.1038/nature06429, 2007.
  45. Kneller, E.A., and P.E. van Keken, The effects of three-dimensional slab geometry on deformation in the mantle wedge: implications for shear wave anisotropy, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 9, Q01003, doi:10.1029/2007GC001677, 2008.
  46. Rondenay, S., G.A. Abers, and P.E. van Keken, Seismic imaging of subduction zone metamorphism, Geology, 36, 275-278, doi:10.1130/G24112A.1, 2008.
  47. van Hunen, J., P.E. van Keken, A. Hynes, and G.F. Davies, Tectonics of the Early Earth: some geodynamic considerations. in: "When did plate tectonics begin on Earth?", (editors K.C. Condie and V. Pease), Geological Society of America Special Issue 440, 157-171, 2008.
  48. Kneller, E.A., M. Long, and P.E. van Keken, Olivine fabric transitions and shear wave anisotropy in the Ryukyu subduction system, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 268, 268-282, 2008.
  49. van Keken, P.E., C. Currie, S.D. King, M.D. Behn, A. Cagnioncle, J. He, R.F. Katz, S.-C. Lin, E.M. Parmentier, M. Spiegelman, and K. Wang, A community benchmark for subduction zone modeling, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 171, 187-197, 2008.
  50. Brandenburg, J.P., E.H. Hauri, P.E. van Keken, C.J. Ballentine, A multiple-system study of the geochemical evolution of the mantle with force-balanced plates and thermochemical effects, Earth and Planetary Sciences, 276, 1-13, 2008.
  51. Kimura, J.-I., B.R. Hacker, P.E. van Keken, H. Kawabata, T. Yoshida, and R.J. Stern, Arc Basalt Simulator version 2, a simulation for slab dehydration and fluid-fluxed mantle melting for arc basalts: modeling scheme and application Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 10, Q09004, doi:10.1029/2008GC002217, 2009
  52. Vatteville, J., P.E. van Keken, A. Limare, and A. Davaille, Starting laminar plumes: comparison of laboratory and numerical modeling Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 10, Q12013, doi:10.1029/2009GC002739, 2009.


  53. Kimura, J.-I., A.J.R. Kent, M.C. Rowe, M. Katakuse, F. Nakano, B.R.Hacker, P.E. van Keken, H. Kawabata, and R.J. Stern, Origin of cross-chain geochemical variation in Quaternary lavas from the northern Izu arc: Using a quantitative mass balance approach to identify mantle sources and mantle wedge processes Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems, 11, Q10011, 2010, doi:10.1029/2010GC003050.
  54. King, S.D., C. Lee, P.E. van Keken, W. Leng, S. Zhong, E. Tan, N. Tosi, and M.C. Kameyama, A community benchmark for 2D Cartesian compressible convection in the Earth's mantle Geophysical Journal International, 180, 73-87, doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04413.x, 2010.
    Supplementary information (tables)
  55. Mittelstaedt, E., A. Davaille, P.E. van Keken, N. Gracias, and J. Escartin, A noninvasive method for measuring the velocity of diffuse hydrothermal flow by tracking moving refractive index anomalies, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 11, Q10005, doi:10.1029/2010GC003227, 2010.
  56. Syracuse, E.M., P.E. van Keken, and G.A. Abers, The global range of subduction zone thermal models, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 183, 73-90, 2010.
  57. Styles, E., S. Goes, P.E. van Keken, J. Ritsema, and H. Smith, Synthetic images of dynamically predicted plumes and comparison with a global tomographic model, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 311, 351-363, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2011.09.012, 2011.
  58. van Keken, P.E., B.R. Hacker, E.M. Syracuse, and G.A. Abers, Subduction factory 4: Depth-dependent flux of H2O from subducting slabs worldwide, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, B01401, 2011.
  59. Hwang, Y.K., J. Ritsema, P.E. van Keken, S. Goes, and E.M. Styles, Wavefront healing renders deep plumes seismically invisible, Geophysical Journal International, 187, 273-277, 2011.
  60. Turner, S., J. Caulfield, M. Turner, P.E. van Keken, R. Maury, M. Sandiford, and G. Prouteau, Recent contribution of sediments and fluids to the mantle's volatile budget, Nature Geoscience, 5, 50-54, 2012.
  61. Nelson, W.R., T. Furman, P.E. van Keken, S.B. Shirey, B.B. Hanan, Os-Hf isotopic insight into mantle plume dynamics beneath the East African Rift system, Chemical Geology, v.320-321, 66-79, 2012.
  62. Barcheck, G.C., D.A. Wiens, P.E. van Keken, and B.R.Hacker, The relationship of intermediate- and deep-focus seismicity to hydration and dehydration of subducting slabs, Earth and Planetary Sciences, v.349-350, 153-160, 2012.
  63. Bengtson, A.K., and van Keken, P.E., Three-dimensional thermal structure of subduction zones: effects of obliquity and curvature, Solid Earth, 3, 365-373, 2012. doi:10.5194/se-3-365-2012.
  64. van Keken, P.E., S. Kita, and J. Nakajima, Thermal structure and intermediate-depth seismicity in the Tohoku-Hokkaido subduction zones, Solid Earth, 3, 355-364, 2012. doi:10.5194/se-3-355-2012.
  65. van Keken, P.E., A. Davaille, J. and Vatteville, Dynamics of a laminar plume in a cavity: the influence of boundaries on the steady-state stem structure, Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems, 14, 157-178, doi:10.1029/2012/GC004383.
  66. Abers, G.A., J. Nakajima, P.E. van Keken, S. Kita, and B.R.Hacker, Thermal-petrological controls on the location of earthquakes within subducting plates, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, volumes 369-370, 178-187, 2013.
  67. Bossmann, A.B., and P.E. van Keken, Dynamics of plumes in a compressible mantle with phase changes: implications for phase boundary topography, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 224, 21-31, 2013.
  68. Kimura, J.-I., J.B. Gill, T. Kunikiyo, I. Osaka, Y. Shimoshoiri, M. Katakuse, S. Kakubuchi, T. Nagao, J. Nakajima, P.E. van Keken, and R.J. Stern, Diverse magmatic effects of subducting a hot slab in SW Japan: results from forward modeling, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 15, 691-739, 2014.
  69. M. Morishige, and P.E. van Keken, Along-arc variation in the 3-D thermal structure around the junction between the Japan and Kurile arcs, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 15, 2225-2240, doi:10.1002/2014GC005394, 2014.
  70. Wilson, C.R., M. Spiegelman, P.E. van Keken, and B.R.Hacker, Fluid flow in subduction zones: the role of solid rheology and compaction pressure, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 401, 261-274, 2014.

Publications: Book Chapters

  1. Yuen, D.A., O. Cadek, P.E. van Keken, D.M. Reuteler, H. Kyvalova, and B.A. Schroeder, Combined results from mineral physics, tomography and mantle convection and their implications on global geodynamics, in: "Seismic modeling of the Earth's structure", E. Boschi, G. Ekstrom, A. Morelli (Eds), pp. 463-505, 1996.
  2. van Keken, P.E., C.J. Ballentine, E. Hauri, Convective mixing in the Earth's mantle, Volume 2 "Geochemistry of the mantle and core" (Rick Carlson, editor) of the Treatise of Geochemistry (Turekian and Holland, editors), Elsevier, 2004.
  3. Ito, G., and P.E. van Keken, Hotspots and melting anomalies, In: Treatise on Geophysics (editor G. Schubert), Volume 7, "Mantle dynamics" (editor D. Bercovici), 371-435, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2007.
  4. van Keken, P.E., Mantle mixing: processes and modeling, in Physics and Chemistry of the Earth's Deep Interior, (editor S. Karato), 351-371, 412pp, ISBN 978-0-470-65914-1, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
  5. van Keken, P.E., C.J. Ballentine, and E.H. Hauri, Convective mixing in the Earth's mantle, in: Treatise on Geochemistry, 2nd edition (editors K. Turekian and H. Holland), volume 3 "The mantle and core" (editor R.W. Carlson), 509-525, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2015.
  6. Ballmer, M., G. Ito, and P.E. van Keken, Hotspots, large igneous provinces, and melting anomalies, in: Treatise of Geophysics, 2nd edition, (editor G. Schubert), volume 7 "Mantle Dynamics", (editor D. Bercovici), 393-459, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2015.

Publications: Citations

October 2015:
   Web of Science ISI: h-index 33, citations 3063.
   Google Citations: h-index 37, citations 4208.
Papers with more than 100 citations (Google Scholar): van Keken et al., Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 2002 (299); Syracuse et al., Phys Earth Planet. Int., 2010 (250); van Keken et al., J. Geophys. Res., 2001 (166); van Keken et al., J. Geophys. Res., 1997 (111); van Keken et al., Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 2002 (168); Kneller et al., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 2005 (148); van Keken et al., Tectonophys., 1993 (149); Abers et al., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 2006 (144); van Keken, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 2003 (116); Zegers and van Keken, Geology, 2001 (112); van Keken, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 1997 (107); Rondenay et al., Geology, 2008 (106). Peacock et al., Phys. Earth Planet. Inter., 2005 (106); Vlaar et al., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 1994 (102) van den Berg et al., Geophys. J. Int., 1993 (102).

Peter E. van Keken
Professor of Geophysics
Chair, GeoPRISMS program (2013-2016)
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Michigan
2534 CC Little Building
1100 North University Avenue
Ann Arbor MI 48109-1005
phone: +1-734-764-1435 (Departmental Office); +1-734-255-1228 (GeoPRISMS Office)

Address as of January 2016:
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
Carnegie Institution of Washington
5241 Broad Branch Road, NW
Washington, DC 20015-1305
phone: +1-202-478-8860 (main office)