Tim Stern

Prof Tim Stern profile picture

Professor School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Teaching in 2019


  • PhD in Geophysics - Victoria University of Wellington (1983)
  • BSc with First Class Honours in Applied Mathematics and Geophysics (1977)


Recent Publications from 2006 - Now

Research Interests

My research is concerned with the structure and tectonics of the soild Earth. I study the source and causes of volcanism, mountain building, sedimentary basin formation and plate tectonics.  My focus areas are Antarctica and the wider New Zealand continent, although my interest is in processes, rather than geographic regions.

Earth-processes of interest are:

  • Continental transform faults
  • The origin of andesite magmatism
  • Small scale convection in the mantle and its role in continental tectonics
  • Detection of, and mechanical properties for, the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary
  • Serpetinisation of the mantle wedge and the apparent links with slow slip in subduction zones
  • Measuring vertical tectonics and uplift using continuous GPS and geological methods

These topics have led to a focus on areas such as central South and North Island, and the Transantarctic Mountains.

I have ongoing research collaborations with GNS Science in Wellington, and with colleagues in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia.

Since 2004 I have led, or co-led, four Marsden funded programs – seismic exploration of the North Island’s upper mantle (2004); recording and interpreting microearthquakes on the central section of the Alpine fault (2008); an investigation of mantle processes that drive the uplift of the central North and South Island (2012); application of small scale convection processes to uplift of major mountain ranges such as the Transantarctic Mountains (2016).

A Royal Society James Cook fellowship (from March 2010 - March 2012) enabled me to pursue an interest in mantle instabilities and the role they play in tectonics. I spent half of the fellowship time at Leeds University working on finite element codes that simulate Rayleigh-Taylor type- viscous deformation of the mantle.

In 2018 I will undertook a 4-month visit to the USA as a Fulbright Scholar.

Prof Tim Stern CV and Publications 2018 pdf319KB


Teaching in 2019