Gabi Laske is a professor-in-residence in the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
Laske’s research focuses on the imaging of Earth’s interior using earthquake data in a field known as seismic tomography. Her studies focus on seismic surface waves that illuminate the top 200 kilometers (124 miles) of Earth’s structure. She often collaborates with colleagues who analyze body waves to “see” deeper into Earth. Laske is also one of very few scientists who analyze Earth’s free oscillations that are generated by very large earthquakes such as the Dec. 26, 2004, Sumatra-Andaman and the March 11, 2011, Tohoku, Japan, earthquakes. Using such data, her team was the first to reliably show that Earth’s inner core, the planet within a planet, essentially rotates in sync with the mantle.
Laske also participates in research cruises to deploy seismometers on the ocean floor. She led the 2005-2007 Plume-Lithosphere-Undersea-Mantle Experiment (PLUME) to explore the deeper plumbing system of Hawaiian volcanism. Her team was able to show, for the first time, that Hawaii is fed by a deep magma source that reaches well into the lower mantle, a text-book example of a previously proposed deep-rooted mantle plume.
A German citizen, Laske grew up in the upper Rhine valley, a stone’s throw away from Switzerland. She received her M.S. equivalent degree in geophysics from Karlsruhe University in Germany in 1988 and her doctorate degree in 1993 from the same university before joining the seismology group at IGPP as a postdoctoral Green Scholar in 1994. She became a project scientist in 1996, a researcher in 1998, and a professor in residence in 2012. She received the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award at Scripps in 2007.