Professor Louis Moresi

Associate Director Education
DPhil (Oxford); BA(hons) (Cambridge)

Content navigation


I am a professor of geophysics / geodynamics and I am interested in understanding the evolution of the deep Earth over geological time, how this evolution is recorded in the superficial geological record,and how to build computation modelling tools to simulate the Earth. The tools of my trade are computational programs and numerical algorithms.

I am a strong supporter of open source code so my publications will also find links to repositories where the source code is available with examples of how to reproduce peer-reviewed benchmarks and published results. Not surprisingly, I am also a believer in literate programming [1], recent examples are in the form of ipython / jupyter notebooks.

For more information about me, my work and some blog posts see

Fellow, Australian Academy of Science, 2023
Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 2017
Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society, 2000

[1] Knuth, Donald E. (1984). "Literate Programming". The Computer Journal (British Computer Society) 27 (2): 97-111. doi:10.1093/comjnl/27.2.97.


science Research area

Research interests

I am trying to understand the thermal-mechanical evolution of the Earth through geological time. This includes the fundamental question of how convective heat loss from the deep Earth is expressed mechanically as plate tectonics, the role of continents in the modulating this expression, the interaction between processes on this planetary scale with instabilities at the lithospheric scale — whether rheological or mechanical in nature, the influence of atmospheric feedbacks on the solid earth, and the signatures of all these processes that we can expect to find through geophysical observation of the present day Earth, and in the long-term geological record.

Much of the complexity in the surface expression of mantle flow can be attributed to the non-linear nature of the constitutive laws. The Earth, on geological timescales, behaves as a non-linear viscoelastic fluid with a finite strength due to small-scale processes such as faulting and ductile shear localization which can be treated through the theory of plasticity. The underlying processes which we treat in this manner introduce complexity in that they introduce a significant dependence on the stress, strain, and thermal histories of the fluid representation. Plasticity is typically a phenomenological description of the material response to stresses and is cast in terms of the stress state of the material (from which the motions follow); in the Earth, stresses are less well known than the kinematics and much is likely to be learned from plasticity models which are founded on the kinematics of surface motions.


Jaeger 2 / 231


  • Mather, B, Muller, D, O'Neill, C et al. 2022, 'Constraining the response of continental-scale groundwater flow to climate change', Scientific Reports, vol. 12, no. 1.
  • Yang, H, Moresi, L & Mansour, J 2021, 'Stress recovery for the particle-in-cell finite element method', Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, vol. 311, pp. 1-23.
  • Mansour, J, Giordani, J, Moresi, L et al. 2020, 'Underworld2: Python Geodynamics Modelling for Desktop, HPC and Cloud', The Journal of Open Source Software, vol. 5, no. 47, p. 1797.
  • Moron, S, Kohn, B, Beucher, R et al. 2020, 'Denuding a Craton: Thermochronology Record of Phanerozoic Unroofing From the Pilbara Craton, Australia', Tectonics, vol. 39, no. 9, pp. -.
  • Lecocq, T, Hicks, S, Koen, V et al. 2020, 'Global Quieting of High-Frequency Seismic Noise Due to COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown Measures', Science, vol. 369, pp. 1338-1343.
  • Sandiford, D, Moresi, L, Sandiford, M et al. 2020, 'The Fingerprints of Flexure in Slab Seismicity', Tectonics, vol. 39, no. 8.
  • Kiraly, A, Portner, D, Haynie, K et al. 2020, 'The effect of slab gaps on subduction dynamics and mantle upwelling', Tectonophysics, vol. 785, pp. -.
  • Yang, H, Moresi, L & Quigley, M 2020, 'Fault spacing in continental strike-slip shear zones', Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 530.
  • Mulhaus, H & Moresi, L 2019, 'A Model for Trap Door Flow from a Deep Container', in Wei Wu (ed.), Desiderata Geotechnica, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, pp. 113-118.
  • Mather, B, Moresi, L & Rayner, P 2019, 'Adjoint inversion of the thermal structure of Southeastern Australia', Geophysical Journal International, vol. 219, no. 3, pp. 1648-1659.
  • Carluccio, R, Kaus, B, Capitanio, F et al. 2019, 'The Impact of a Very Weak and Thin Upper Asthenosphere on Subduction Motions', Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 46, no. 21, pp. 11893-11905.
  • Yang, T, Moresi, L, Gurnis, M et al. 2019, 'Contrasted East Asia and South America Tectonics Driven by Deep Mantle Flow', Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 517, pp. 106-116.
  • Sandiford, D, Moresi, L, Sandiford, M et al. 2019, 'Geometric controls on flat slab seismicity', Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 527, no. 0.
  • Moron, S, Cawood, P, Haines, P et al. 2019, 'Long-Lived Transcontinental Sediment Transport Pathways of East Gondwana', Geology, vol. 47, no. 6, pp. 513-16.
  • Sandiford, D & Moresi, L 2019, 'Improving Subduction Interface Implementation in Dynamic Numerical Models', Solid Earth, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 969-85.
  • Beucher, R, Moresi, L, Giordani, J et al. 2019, 'UWGeodynamics: A Teaching and Research Tool for Numerical Geodynamic Modelling', The Journal of Open Source Software, vol. 4, no. 36, p. 1136.
  • Moresi, L & Mather, B 2019, 'Stripy: A Python Module for (Constrained) Triangulation in Cartesian Coordinates and on a Sphere', The Journal of Open Source Software, vol. 4, no. 38, p. 1410.
  • Mondy, L, Rey, P, Duclaux, G et al. 2018, 'The role of asthenospheric flow during rift propagation and breakup', Geology, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 103-106.
  • Pall, J, Zahirovic, S, Doss, S et al. 2018, 'The influence of carbonate platform interactions with subduction zone volcanism on palaeo-atmospheric CO2 since the Devonian', Climate of the Past, vol. 14, no. 6, pp. 857-870.
  • Garber, J, Maurya, S, Hernandez, J et al. 2018, 'Multidisciplinary Constraints on the Abundance of Diamond and Eclogite in the Cratonic Lithosphere', Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, vol. 19, no. 7, pp. 2062-2086.
  • Yang, T, Moresi, L, Muller, D et al. 2017, 'Oceanic Residual Topography Agrees With Mantle Flow Predictions at Long Wavelengths', Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 44, no. 21, pp. 10,896-10,906.
  • Sharples, W, Moresi, L, Velic, M et al. 2016, 'Simulating faults and plate boundaries with a transversely isotropic plasticity model', Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, vol. 252, pp. 77-90.