The 2018 Division Outstanding Early Career Scientists Awards is awarded to Thibault Duretz for his fundamental contributions to understanding slab detachment, shear zones, passive-margin formation, obduction and development of new numerical algorithms.
Thibault Duretz is an extraordinary young scientist, who has made significant and lasting contributions to the field of lithosphere and computational geodynamics. In his PhD, for which he received the prestigious ETH Medal, he systematically studied the physics of slab break-off using both 2D and 3D numerical models and simplified analytical models. Through his results, he illustrated that several modes of slab break-off exist and how lithospheric structure and rheology affect this process, as well as the consequences on the evolution of topography and on the exhumation of high-pressure rocks. Subsequently, he focussed on a wider range of problems throughout the field of geodynamics, such as crystal segregation within dikes, the effects of material heterogeneities on rifting and necking, and the obduction of oceanic plates. Rather than just running numerical simulations, he consistently strives to develop simplified scaling laws that give insights in the underlying physics of the processes, as shown by his outstanding work on the thickness of shear bands across the scales. At the same time, he has also expanded our technical abilities to model geodynamic processes numerically by developing new algorithms to include a free surface and adaptive mesh refinement techniques in staggered grid formulations, and by helping develop the currently fastest open-source nonlinear geodynamics code. As a person, he is a very motivating and inspiring scientist who easily conveys his ideas and enthusiasm. Despite his young age, he has already co-supervised several PhD students. With 28 publications in prestigious journals, he is among the top young scientists in our field and is therefore a most deserving Early Career Scientist Awardee.