Jun Korenaga

2011 Regional Award Finalist — Faculty

Jun Korenaga

Current Position:
Professor of Geology & Geophysics

Yale University

Geology & Geophysics

Recognized for:  Developing a new theory on Earth cooling that is the first dynamical model fully consistent with geophysics and geochemistry

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Thermal and chemical evolution of Earth in the context of the solar system dynamics; Geodynamics; Seismology; Geochemistry


  • PhD, MIT/WHOI Joint Program, Oceanography (Marine Geophysics)
  • M.Sc., University of Tokyo

Jun Korenaga describes himself as a "freestyle" geophysicist whose research utilizes many disciplines to explore the evolution and dynamics of Earth’s mantle.

In 2010 and 2012, Dr. Korenaga and his colleagues sailed on a research vessel in the Pacific Ocean to study the formation of the Shatsky Rise and to further their study of the mantle.  These cruises resulted in the discovery of the largest single volcano (called “Tamu Massif”) on Earth. Dr. Korenaga is also extending his work to other Earth-like planets within and outside the Solar System.

In an interview with Yale News on March 4, 2014, Dr. Korenaga said "one of the great mysteries in geophysics is why plate tectonics take place on Earth. There are a few hypotheses, but it has been difficult to test any of them with observations. Recently I realized that a key might be hidden in the subtle signatures of the gravity field, and with my postdoc, I have been developing a new way of analyzing gravity data."

He also recently developed a new method of identifying faint signals in noisy data by combining "bootstrap resampling" with multichannel signal processing. This new approach is about an order-of-magnitude more powerful than existing methods and allows greater capability to define the fine-scale structure of the Earth's mantle, which is critical for constraining the efficiently of convective mixing. As a Guggenheim Fellow, Dr. Korenaga is planning to explore the possibility of optimizing this new detection method and its application to the seismic imaging of Earth's deep interior.

Key Publications:

  1. Korenaga J. Initiation and evolution of plate tectonics on Earth: Theories and observations.  Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 2013 
  2. Korenaga J. Urey ratio and the structure and evolution of Earth's mantle. Rev. Geophys. 2008
  3. Korenaga J. Energetics of mantle convection and the fate of fossil heat. Geophys. Res. Lett. 2003

Other Honors:

2014 Guggenheim Fellow
2008 Microsoft A. Richard Newton Breakthrough Research Award
2007 Kavli Frontiers Fellow, National Academy of Sciences
2006 AGU James B. Macelwane Medal
2005 NSF CAREER Award 

In the Media:

Yale faculty named Guggenheim fellows. Yale News. April 16, 2014
Take 5: Geologist Jun Korenaga. Yale News. March 4, 2014