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Peter Kelemen


Peter Kelemen has been at WHOI, as a postdoc and then a scientist, for 15 years. During this time he and his wife, Rachel Cox, have acquired a house, two kids, and Rachel’s Ph.D. in physiology from Boston University Medical School. During the initial four of his six years as an undergraduate, Kelemen was an English and philosophy major at Dartmouth College. He then realized he would need to get a job when he graduated. In the meantime, he had learned technical climbing techniques. He reasoned that it would be best to work outside in the mountains, and so switched to a major in earth sciences. In 1980, Peter and some friends founded Dihedral Exploration, a consulting company specializing in “extreme terrain mineral exploration.” From then until 1991, he split his time between geological research and mineral exploration, in the process obtaining a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. As a mineral exploration consultant and research scientist, Kelemen has been fortunate to work in the mountains of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Peru, the Yukon, Alaska, the Indian Himalaya and Karakorum Ranges, East Greenland, and even along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, as well as in the Oman ophiolite where oceanic crust has been thrust on land, tilted, uplifted, and dissected by beautiful desert canyons. Because the oceanic section is tilted, you can walk through these canyons and see rocks that formed at depths ranging from the seafloor, to 20 kilometers below the seafloor. Recently, Kelemen was Co-Chief Scientist on Ocean Drilling Program Leg 209, which recovered lower crust and upper mantle samples from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between 14 and 16°N. He has accepted a new job as Arthur D. Storke Professor at Columbia University, starting next fall, but he plans to continue to spend summers in Woods Hole.

Peter Kelemen

Unraveling the Tapestry of Ocean Crust

Unraveling the Tapestry of Ocean Crust

Most people know that oceans cover about 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Fewer people realize that the crust beneath oceans and continents is fundamentally different. Why this is so remains a mystery that scientists are still trying to solve.

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