Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Prof Satish Singh

Visiting Professor, Earth Observatory of Singapore

Prof Satish Singh

Professor Satish Singh was born in Varanasi, India and completed his education at the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India and University of Toronto, Canada. After spending two years at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, he joined the University of Cambridge in 1990, where he led the development of a strong theoretical seismology group that formed the foundation of LITHOS in 1998, a consortium of oil companies that he ran until 2012. He moved to the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in 1999, and led the creation of new Marine Geosciences Department that he directed until 2008. He also created the French Ocean Bottom Pool that he led from 2001 to 2010.

In 2012 he was awarded the French National Research Agency (ANR) Industry Chair, which has been co-sponsored by TOTAL, Schlumberger and CGG. Since 2012, he has started an International Master of Research in Exploration Geophysics in partnership with Ecole des Mines de Paris (Mine ParisTech). TOTAL, Schlumberger and CGG are industry partners and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and University of Kyoto are international academic partners.

He was visiting professor at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 2004 and has been a frequent visitor (1996, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012) at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California as a Cecil Green Scholar. Although he moved to Paris in 1999, he still holds a Principal Research Fellow position at the University of Cambridge. Recently, he was appointed a Visiting Professor at Nanyang Technical University.

In 2006, he persuaded Schlumberger to carry out a deep seismic reflection survey after the great Sumatra earthquake offshore northern Sumatra, and in 2009 he persuaded CGGV to acquire deep seismic reflection data in the locked zone of Sumatra.

He has published over 130 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including ten in Nature and Science. He has supervised over 50 Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers. He was elected AGU Fellow in 2010, and awarded the Grand Prix by the French Academy of Sciences in 2011. Recently, he was awarded the prestigious award of the European Research Council Advanced Grant to study the Lithosphere-Asthenosphere Boundary across Atlantic Ocean.
Research Interests
Professor Satish Singh has a very broad research interest in geophysics, covering theoretical developments, design of innovative field experiments, analysis and interpretation of a variety of geophysical and geological data using advanced techniques and has made fundamental contribution in several disciples of Earth Sciences. Some of the research achievements below highlights his research interests:

Modelling and Inversion: Singh is a world leader in modelling and inversion of seismic data and has established one of the most productive research groups in Europe. He was the first to recognise the importance of jointly inverting seismic reflection and refraction data and developed 2D and 3D tomographic inversion techniques. Long before waveform inversion became one of the main areas of research, he developed 2D full elastic inversion and applied to long offset streamer data, to ocean bottom cable data, and time lapse seismic and included electromagnetic data in a joint inversion.

Mid-Ocean Ridges. Singh started working on Mid-Ocean Ridges in late nineties when he first applied seismic full waveform inversion to seismic data from the East Pacific Rise and showed that axial magma chambers are segmented along the ridge axis between 2-4 km pure melt lenses at 15-20 km mush zones, and published his seminal paper in Nature in 1998. In 1997, in collaboration with colleagues from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he led the world's first 3D seismic reflection-refraction seismic experiment at the northern East Pacific Rise and discovered the widest melt lens beneath 9ºN overlapping spreading centre and imaged the Moho beneath the axial magma chamber and published two papers in Nature (2000, 2006). In 2005, he led another 3D seismic experiment at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and discovered axial magma chamber at a slow spreading ridge for the first time (Nature, 2006).
Subduction Zones. After the 2004 great Sumatra Andaman earthquake, Singh launched an ambitious research program, which was not just funded by government funding agencies, but also by industry that provided their best technology to image the faults and rupture zone. Using these exceptional technologies, he was able image the subducting oceanic crust (top and Moho) down to 60 km depth. He showed that the down-going subducting plate breaks, bends and unbends as it subducts, possibly rupturing a part of the oceanic plate during great earthquakes, such as Sumatra 2004 (Nature Geoscience, 2008). He has imaged the deepest subducted seamount (30-40 km) beneath the Sumatra forearc continental mantle and suggested that subduction of seamounts can lead to a weak coupling, can act as barrier for rupture propagation, and hence reduce the maximum size of earthquakes (Nature Geoscience, 2011). Using these high-resolution seismic data, Singh suggested that large tsunamis during the 2004 and 2010 earthquakes were due to frontal rupturing, which was supposed to be aseismic; same thing happened during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.
Gas Hydrate: Singh made a major impact on the study of gas hydrates when he inverted seismic data from the Cascadia margin and showed that bottom simulating reflections (gas hydrates) are mainly due to a small amount of free gas and the amount of hydrate above is also very small and therefore the total amount of methane present in gas hydrate stability zone along the continental margins would be an order of magnitude smaller than predicted previously and hence its effect on its energy potential and the global warming would be much small (Science, 1993).

Singh has also worked on the inner core suggesting that upper part of the inner core is partially molten (Sience, 2000). Now he wants to study the whole of the lithosphere, particularly the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary and is organising series of marine experiments across Atlantic Ocean.
Current Projects
  • Bengal Assam
  • Java-TERA
  • MIRAGE: Imaging Intraplate Faulting In The Indian Ocean
  • Nepal Earthquakes

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