Paul Tapponnier is one of the foremost scientists of his generation in neotectonics. His discovery of active faults in and around Tibet that are accommodating the collision of India into Asia revolutionized the scientific understanding of Asia’s tectonics. His research provided a consistent model of large-scale crustal deformation processes between the Himalayas and Baykal, all the way to the East China Sea. The model was subsequently extended to include most of Southeast Asia, based on innovative analog experiments. In combination with his studies in Mediterranean Sea, his work confirms that propagation of new faults over hundreds of kilometers is an essential element of continental tectonics.
Prof. Tapponnier pioneered the use of satellite imagery to study large-scale tectonics, which set the standard for modern methods of tectonic research.
- PhD - Doctorat d'Etat, Université des Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc, Montpellier, 1978 ("Intracontinental Tectonics in Alpine Europe and Asia", with honours)
- M.S. Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (Major: Geology – Geophysics), 1970
- Ingénieur Civil des Mines de Paris
- 2009 – Present : Full Professor and Head of Tectonics and Earthquake Research, Earth Observatory of Singapore (an institute of Nanyang Technological University)
- 1991 – 2009
- Director of the Tectonics Department, Institut de Physique du Globe, Paris
- Full Professor with tenure (Physicien, classe exceptionnelle), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (since 1991)
- Director (1984-1996, 2001-2004) of Unité Mixte de Recherche 7578, "Tectonique, Mécanique de la Lithosphère" (one of the research Laboratory of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
- Distinguished visiting scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- January - July 2000 : invited professor, Caltech, USA
- February 2008 - April 2009 : invited professor, Schlumberger/Saudi Aramco, KSA
- 1986 – 1990 Full Professor, (Physicien Titulaire, 2nd then 1st class), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, tenured.
- 1980 – 1985 Associate Professor (Physicien Adjoint), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, with tenure.
- 1978 – 1980 Assistant Professor, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris.
- 1976 – 1978 Research Fellow, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Montpellier.
- 1975 – 1976 Master Assistant, Laboratoire de Géologie Structurale, Université des Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc, Montpellier.
- 1973 – 1975 Visiting Research Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences).
- 1971 – 1973 Assistant, Université des Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc, Laboratoire de Géologie Structurale, Montpellier.
- 1970 – 1971 Assistant, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Ponts & Chaussées (Géologie appliquée, Génie civil).
- Société Géologique de France
- Académie des Sciences
- American Geophysical Union
- Geological Society of America
- Geological Society of London
- European Union of Geosciences
- ES7006 - Active Tectonics
- Universités de Paris VI, VII, and Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (1979 – present) :
- Plate tectonics and structural geology
- Physics of brittle and ductile deformations
- Continental seismicity and tectonics, mechanics of the Lithosphere.
- Remote sensing, analysis of morphology and climate change, and of active faulting and crustal structure
- Université des Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc, Montpellier(1971-73, 1975-78) :
- Field and Laboratory Methods in Structural Geology
- Elementary Mathematics for Geology
- Rock Mechanics
- 2012 Honorary Member of the Nepal Geological Society
- 2011 Einstein Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences
- 2008 Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of London
- 2005 Member of the French Academy of sciences (Corresponding member since 1994)
- 2005 Foreign associate Member of the National Academy of Science (USA)
- 2001 Lyell Medal, Geological Society, London
- 1999 Francis Birch Lecturer, American Geophysical Union
- 1998 Friendship Medal, People's Republic of China
- 1996 Honorary Fellow of Geological Society of America
- 1994 Fellow of American Geophysical Union
- 1994 Best Paper award, Geological Society of America
- 1991 Knight of National Order of Legion of Honour, France
- 1990 Grand Prix Scientifique de la ville de Paris
- 1985 "Alfred Wegener" Medal of European Union of Geosciences
- 1984 Silver Medal of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France
Is there a nascent plate boundary in the northern Indian Ocean?. Geophysical Research Letters. 47, (2020).
A composite rupture model for the great 1950 Assam earthquake across the cusp of the East Himalayan Syntaxis. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 531, (2020).
Tsunami earthquakes: Vertical pop-up expulsion at the forefront of subduction megathrust. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 538, (2020).
Structural control and system-level behavior of the seismic cycle at the Nankai Trough. Earth, Planets and Space. 72(1), (2020).
Stratigraphic Control of Frontal Décollement Level and Structural Vergence and Implications for Tsunamigenic Earthquake Hazard in Sumatra, Indonesia. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. 20, (2019).
Post‐earthquake aggradation processes to hide surface ruptures in thrust systems: The M8.3, 1934, Bihar‐Nepal earthquake ruptures at Charnath Khola (Eastern Nepal). Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. (2019).
Necking and fracking may explain stationary seismicity and full degassing in volcanic silicic spine extrusion. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 503, 47-57. (2018).
Evidence of pervasive trans-tensional deformation in the northwestern Wharton Basin in the 2012 earthquakes rupture area. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 502, 174-186. (2018).
Kinematics of Active Deformation Across the Western Kunlun Mountain Range (Xinjiang, China) and Potential Seismic Hazards Within the Southern Tarim Basin. Journal of Geophysical Research - Solid Earth. 122(12), 10398-10426. (2017).
The discovery of a conjugate system of faults in the Wharton Basin intraplate deformation zone. Science Advances. 3, (2017).
Along-strike variations of the partitioning of convergence across the Haiyuan fault system detected by InSAR. Geophysical Journal International. 205(1), 536-547. (2016).
Slip deficit in central Nepal: omen for a repeat of the 1344 AD earthquake?. Earth, Planets and Space. 68(12), (2016).
Late Quaternary slip-rate along the central Bangong-Chaxikang segment of the Karakorum fault, western Tibet. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 128(1-2), 284-314. (2016).
Structural segmentation controlled the 2015 M-w 7.8 Gorkha earthquake rupture in Nepal. Geology. 44(8), 639-642. (2016).
Two hundred thirty years of relative sea level changes due to climate andmegathrust tectonics recorded in coral microatolls of Martinique (FrenchWest Indies). Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 121(4), 2873-2903. (2016).
Coseismic slip on shallow décollement megathrusts: implications for seismic and tsunami hazard. Earth-Science Reviews. 141(February), 45-55. (2015).
The 2012 Mw 8.6 Wharton Basin sequence: A cascade of great earthquakes generated by near‐orthogonal, young, oceanic‐mantle faults. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 120(5), 3723–3747. (2015).
What caused the mysterious eighteenth century tsunami that struck the southwest Taiwan coast?. Geophysical Research Letters. 42(20), 8498-8506. (2015).
The Al Hoceima Mw 6.4 earthquake of 24 February 2004 and its aftershocks sequence. Journal of Geodynamics. 77, 89-109. (2014).
Estimating the return times of great Himalayan earthquakes in eastern Nepal: Evidence from the Patu and Bardibas strands of the Main Frontal Thrust. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 119(9), 7123–7163. (2014).
Primary surface ruptures of the great Himalayan earthquakes in 1934 and 1255. Nature Geoscience. 6, 71-76. (2013).
Comment on "Displacement along the Karakoram fault, NW Himalaya, estimated from LA-ICP-MS U-Pb dating of offset geologic markers" published by Shifeng Wang et al. in EPSL, 2012. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 363, 242-245. (2013).
The Pingding segment of the Altyn Tagh Fault (91°E): Holocene slip-rate determination from cosmogenic radionuclide dating of offset fluvial terraces. Journal of Geophysical Research. 117, (2012).
Successive deformation episodes along the Lungmu Co zone, west-central Tibet. Gondwana Research. 21, 37-52. (2012).
Co-seismic and cumulative offsets of the recent earthquakes along the Karakax left-lateral strike-slip fault in western Tibet. Gondwana Research. 21, 64-87. (2012).
Normal Faulting during the August 1989 Earthquakes in Central Afar: Sequential Triggering and Propagation of Rupture along the Dobi Graben. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 101, 994-1023. (2011).
Tectonic context of moderate to large historical earthquakes in the Lesser Antilles and mechanical coupling with volcanoes. Journal of Geophysical Research. 116, (2011).
Basin to basin: Plate tectonics in exploration. Oilfield Review. 24, 38-57. (2011).
Frontier Hydrocarbon Exploration: The Importance of Tectonic Models. Oilfield Review. 24, 1. (2011).
Incision rate of the Yellow River in Northeastern Tibet constrained by 10Be and 26Al cosmogenic isotope dating of fluvial terraces: implications for catchment evolution and plateau building. Geological Society, London, Special Publications. 353, 189-219. (2011).