Trond H. Torsvik

Trond H. Torsvik

Professor of Geodynamics

PhD: 1985, Institute of Geophysics, University of Bergen

Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED)
University of Oslo
Sem Sælands vei 24
P.O. Box 1048, Blindern
NO-0316 Oslo

email: t.h.torsvik (at)
phone: +47 2285 6416
mobile: +47 9405 3258

Also at
Geological Survey of Norway (NGU)
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Research Interests

Palaeomagnetism, Plate Tectonics, Earth History, Geodynamics

Current Research

My main current research project is Beyond Plate Tectonics funded by the European Research Council (ERC Advanced Investigator Grant). The overall aim is to integrate Plate Tectonics into Mantle Dynamics and to develop a theory that explains plate motions quantitatively and dynamically. By mapping past plate motions, probing the underlying processes that cause plate motions, and investigating the consequences of plate motions through time for the evolving Earth we anticipate to shed light on fundamental issues such as: Why does Earth have plate tectonics? How do plate tectonics and mantle convection interact? How and where do mantle plumes develop? What governs the formation and break-up of supercontinents? Other projects relevant to Earth Dynamics include the Topo-Europe (Topo-4D) related project Absolute plate motions and dynamic topography of Europe. Here we refine Mediterranean plate tectonic models and construct oceanic paleo-age grids, reconstruct Europe (past 100 Myr) in an absolute mantle reference frame, test plate tectonic models against seismic tomography models and calculate European dynamic topography in the present and past.


Trond Torsvik started his career in classic palaeomagnetism and rock magnetism (PhD in Geophysics 1985) but soon afterwards, started to work closely with structural geologists, thus expanding his impact upon both local and regional geological problems. During the late 1980’s as a postdoctoral researcher in Oxford he developed an interest even more widely in global palaeogeography and Earth history. These studies, originally motivated by the late Stuart McKerrow (Oxford) but now in co-operation with Robin Cocks (London), have established him as a leading authority on Palaeozoic palaeogeography, involving the innovative pairing of time-tested palaeontology (the distribution of fossils) with quantitative palaeomagnetism to constrain and understand Earth's pre-Mesozoic geography. With various collaborators, he has also examined the distribution and history of plates since Pangea breakup, probed the underlying processes that cause plate motions, and investigated the effects of plate motions through time for the evolving Earth. These studies have established the PGP group and collaborators as world leaders in deciphering relative and absolute plate motions.
The variety of topics that Trond have addressed spans the Precambrian to the present, and ranges from the core-mantle-boundary to the surface of the entire Earth. Current research activities include plate tectonics, global palaeogeography, the nature of Wilson cycle tectonics, absolute plate motion reference frames, linking surface and deep mantle processes, hotspots, large igneous provinces and kimberlites (diamonds), supercontinental assembly and dispersal, the dynamics of true polar wander, net lithosphere rotation, dynamic topography, geodynamic modeling, and software development linked to global databases.