Cynthia J. EbingerCynthia J. Ebinger
Marshall-Heape Chair Professor

Phone: 504-862-3201
Fax: 504-865-5199

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Room 204 Blessey Hall
New Orleans, LA 70118

Geophysics and Active Tectonics Research (GATR) Group


Ph.D., MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Joint Program in Oceanography, 1988
M.S., MIT, 1986
B.S., Duke University, 1982

Research Interests

Earthquake Seismology
Active Tectonics
Potential Fields
Crustal Dynamics
Critical Zone Imaging for Archaeology and Geosciences

Selected Publications

Davidge, L., C.J. Ebinger, M. Ruiz, G. Tepp, F. Amelung, D. Geist, D. Coté, Seismicity patterns during a period of inflation at Sierra Negra volcano, Galápagos Islands, Earth Planet. Sci. Letts.,, 2017.

Quillen, A., D. Giannella, J. Shaw, C.J. Ebinger, Crustal failure on icy moons and satellites from strong tidal encounters, Icarus, 275, pp.267-280, 2016.

Tepp, G., Ebinger, C.J., and Yun, S-H., Spectral analyses of dike-induced earthquakes in Afar, Ethiopia, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1002/2015JB012658, 2016.

Lee, H., J. Muirhead, T. Fischer, C. J. Ebinger, S. Kattenhorn, G. Kianji, Massive emission of mantle CO2 along faults in the East African Rift, Nature Geoscience, doi: 10.1038/NGEO2622, 2016.

Research Projects

SEGMeNT: Deformation and Magmatism in Early Stage rift zones. The SEGMeNT project is a multidisciplinary, multinational study focused on the northern Malawi (Nyasa) rift that includes characterizing deformation and magmatism in the crust and mantle lithosphere along several rift segments, quantifying temporal patterns in deformation, and evaluating the source of magmas. This program includes: 1) geochemical analysis and dating of Rungwe volcanic to constrain the origin and age of magmas, 2) GPS, InSAR, and earthquake study to measure opening rates and active tectonic processes, 3) onshore/offshore deployment of passive seismic and magnetolelluric network for lithospheric imaging of deformation and magmatism, particularly detection of magmas and fluids, 5) onshore/offshore active source seismic data acquisition to image sedimentary and crustal structure within and around the lake. Tulane research focuses on the kinematics and dynamics of faulting and magmatism using earthquake seismology.

TANGA: Global seismic networks document frequent and unusually deep earthquakes beneath the Western rift, Africa, enabling us to probe the kinematics and dynamics of fault systems spanning the crust. The abundant earthquakes also allow us to evaluate models for along-axis segmentation of continental rift zones, and mantle flow above mantle plumes. We deployed 14 seismometers in southwestern Tanzania, supplementing and enhancing 3D industry reflection data acquired by our sponsor, Beach Petroleum. Receiver function, mantle and crustal anisotropy, moment tensor and focal mechanism analyses, and double-difference relocations enable us to evaluate current models, and to establish a baseline for earthquake hazards in this area.

CRAFTI (Continental Rifting And Fluid-Tectonic Interaction): A team of researchers from the US, France, Tanzania and Kenya deployed 40 seismometers in an array spanning the Kenya-Tanzania border. The goals of the project are to quantify the flux of magma and volatiles from Earth’s mantle to the surface and atmosphere, respectively, during early stage rifting. Our multi-disciplinary collaborations provide, for the first time, a measure of CO2 flux from magmatic rift zones, and the consequences of large volatile fluxes on crustal properties. Seismic imaging and earthquake studies reveal extensive crustal modification by magma intrusion during the first 5 My of rift system development.

Crustal Loading and Causes of Intraplate Stress: The objectives of spectral analyses of regional gravity and magnetic anomaly data and earthquake catalogues are to systematically evaluate the geometries of crustal density and magnetic susceptibility contrasts (e.g., steep faults, intrusive bodies, Moho topography) giving rise to anomaly patterns. We map faults and sutures beneath New England to test fault interpretations in seismogenic zones. Our results indicate that earthquake epicenters lie within a few kilometers of steep density contrasts imaged using a variety of spectral methods. These maps include structures that are favorably oriented with respect to current stress field, and that could be reactivated.

More detailed descriptions of this work can be found at the website of the GATR Group.

Courses Taught (in development)

EENS 4XXX – Geospatial and Numerical Analyses
EENS 4840 – Solid Earth and Planetary Geophysics
EENS 4XXX – Seismology
EENS 6XXX – Seminar in Earthquake and Volcano Deformation

101 Blessey Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118, 504-865-5198