Sanne Cottaar

Keywords: Earth sciences, global seismology, geophysics, deep Earth

Websites: www.sannecottaar.co.uk,  https://www.esc.cam.ac.uk/directory/dr-sanne-cottaar

Full profile: Dr Sanne Cottaar  is a global geophysicist studying the structure, composition, and dynamics of the deep Earth, and their relationship to surface processes and planetary evolution.  Her approach is both data-driven, hunting for clues constraining the deep Earth in earthquake waveforms; and multi-disciplinary, working with mineral physicists and geodynamicists to understand the implications of the observations.  Sanne has worked at all depths within the Earth, from the crust to the inner core. A large part of her work has uncovered the composition and dynamics of mantle plumes which source locations of intra-plate volcanism, like Hawaii and Iceland. She was the first to map the root to the Hawaiian mantle plume at 3000 km depth.

After studying geophysics at Utrecht University, Sanne completed her PhD at the University of Berkeley, California, in 2013 on ‘Heterogeneity and Flow in the Deep Earth’. She then became a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK, funded by an independent Drapers’ Company Research Fellowship from Pembroke College. In 2015, she became a university lecturer at the University of Cambridge and started to build her research group in global seismology. Currently, Sanne holds an ERC Starting Grant to zoom into and understand Earth’s major internal boundary: the core-mantle boundary.

Sanne and her team are currently working on bringing their research to the wider public with a year-long interactive exhibit at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, entitled ‘Deep Earth Explorers’.

Sanne Cottaar received the Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award from the American Geophysical Union in 2015. In 2019, she was the Bullerwell lecturer, awarded by the British Geophysical Association. Sanne became a Fellow at the Young Academy of Europe in 2020.