David T. Sandwell, professor of geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, has been selected as the winner of the George P. Woollard Award from the Geological Society of America (GSA). Sandwell will receive the award during GSA's annual meeting in Denver, Colo., on Nov. 6.
The award, which is given annually "to recognize outstanding contributions to geology through the application of the principals and techniques of geophysics," is named for the late, internationally acclaimed geophysicist, George Wollard. Scripps geophysicist Lisa Tauxe received the award in 2003.
Sandwell has been associated with the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at Scripps since 1989. He studies geological structures of deep-ocean basins using satellites and ships, with a current focus on the undersea geology of uncharted areas of the South Pacific Ocean. He and a colleague at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration developed the most detailed picture to date of the global seafloor, providing scientists with the first uniform-resolution view of 70 percent of the earth. The new maps were developed by combining newly declassified measurements from the U.S. Navy's GEOSAT satellite with data collected by the European ERS-1 satellite.
"Maps of the ocean depth have traditionally been one the richest sources of geological information about the ocean basins, but even today vast areas, particularly in the southern oceans, remain uncharted by research vessels," said Robert Parker, director of IGPP at Scripps. "David Sandwell realized that radar altimetry from satellites, after subtle processing, contained the necessary information to fill the void. He and his colleagues undertook the task of producing global ocean bathymetry maps of remarkable detail, maps of enormous utility to geology-as this important award clearly testifies."
In addition to research and teaching, Sandwell serves as an advisor to NASA and the National Research Council on marine geophysical initiatives. He has served two terms as associate editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research, and was an editor of Earth Interactions and associate editor of Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics.
He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and a member of the International Association of Geodesy and the Society for Exploration Geophysics.
Established in 1888, the Geological Society of America's mission is to advance the geosciences, to enhance the professional growth of its members, and to promote the geosciences in the service of humankind.