Dr. Sean C. Solomon

Adjunct Senior Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), Columbia Climate School

P.O. Box 1000
61 Route 9W
Palisades, NY 10964-1000


Sean Solomon is an Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where he served as Director and William B. Ransford Professor of Earth and Planetary Science from 2012 to 2020. Prior to coming to Columbia, Solomon held appointments from 1972 to 1992 as Assistant Professor to Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and from 1992 to 2011 as Director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Solomon’s research has spanned a range of topics in Earth and planetary science. He has applied the tools of seismology and marine geophysics to address the formation and tectonic evolution of oceanic crust and lithosphere at mid-ocean ridges and transform faults, the nature and causes of intraplate stress, and the deep seismic structure of oceanic hotspots. Through spacecraft observations and theoretical analyses, he has sought to understand the internal structure and geophysical evolution of the solar system’s inner planets. A member of the science teams for the Magellan mission to Venus, the Mars Global Surveyor mission, and the GRAIL mission to the Moon, Solomon was the principal investigator for NASA’s MESSENGER mission, which sent the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury and study the planet’s composition, geology, topography, gravity and magnetic fields, exosphere, magnetosphere, and heliospheric environment.

A former Hertz Fellow, Sloan Research Fellow, and Guggenheim Fellow, Solomon was President of the American Geophysical Union from 1996 to 1998. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the International Academy of Astronautics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the Geological Society of America. He is a recipient of the G. K. Gilbert Award from the Geological Society of America, the Arthur L. Day Prize from the National Academy of Sciences, the Public Service Medal from NASA, the Harry H. Hess Medal from the American Geophysical Union, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the California Institute of Technology. In 2014 he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama.


Only select publications listed below
Name Published Date
A globally fragmented and mobile lithosphere on Venus 2021
Geodetic Evidence That Mercury Has A Solid Inner Core 2019
Principles of structural geology on rocky planets 2019
Isostatic Compensation of the Lunar Highlands 2018
Reexamination of Early Lunar Chronology With GRAIL Data: Terranes, Basins, and Impact Fluxes 2018
Analysis of MESSENGER high‐resolution images of Mercury's hollows and implications for hollow formation 2016
Evidence from MESSENGER for sulfur‐ and carbon‐driven explosive volcanism on Mercury 2016
Identification of buried lunar impact craters from GRAIL data and implications for the nearside maria 2016
Imaging Mercury's polar deposits during MESSENGER's low‐altitude campaign 2016
Intense energetic electron flux enhancements in Mercury's magnetosphere: An integrated view with high‐resolution observations from MESSENGER 2016
MESSENGER observations of cusp plasma filaments at Mercury 2016
MESSENGER observations of induced magnetic fields in Mercury's core 2016
MESSENGER observations of suprathermal electrons in Mercury's magnetosphere 2016
Widespread effusive volcanism on Mercury likely ended by about 3.5 Ga 2016
An upper mantle seismic discontinuity beneath the Galápagos Archipelago and its implications for studies of the lithosphere‐asthenosphere boundary 2015
Comprehensive survey of energetic electron events in Mercury's magnetosphere with data from the MESSENGER Gamma‐Ray and Neutron Spectrometer 2015
Duration of activity on lobate‐scarp thrust faults on Mercury 2015
First MESSENGER orbital observations of Mercury's librations 2015
First observations of Mercury's plasma mantle by MESSENGER 2015
Improving solar wind modeling at Mercury: Incorporating transient solar phenomena into the WSA‐ENLIL model with the Cone extension 2015
Lunar impact basins revealed by Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory measurements 2015
MESSENGER observations of multiscale Kelvin‐Helmholtz vortices at Mercury 2015
MESSENGER observations of solar energetic electrons within Mercury's magnetosphere 2015
Modular model for Mercury's magnetospheric magnetic field confined within the average observed magnetopause 2015
Support of long‐wavelength topography on Mercury inferred from MESSENGER measurements of gravity and topography 2015
The 4 June 2011 neutron event at Mercury: A defense of the solar origin hypothesis 2015
The fractured Moon: Production and saturation of porosity in the lunar highlands from impact cratering 2015
The low‐degree shape of Mercury 2015
Thickness of the crust of Mercury from geoid‐to‐topography ratios 2015
Constraints on the secular variation of Mercury's magnetic field from the combined analysis of MESSENGER and Mariner 10 data 2014
Detection and characterization of 0.5–8 MeV neutrons near Mercury: Evidence for a solar origin 2014
Global inventory and characterization of pyroclastic deposits on Mercury: New insights into pyroclastic activity from MESSENGER orbital data 2014
Ion kinetic properties in Mercury's pre-midnight plasma sheet 2014
Lunar interior properties from the GRAIL mission 2014
Mercury’s surface magnetic field determined from proton-reflection magnetometry 2014
MESSENGER observations of large dayside flux transfer events: Do they drive Mercury’s substorm cycle? 2014
MESSENGER observations of Mercury's dayside magnetosphere under extreme solar wind conditions 2014
Plasma distribution in Mercury’s magnetosphere derived from MESSENGER Magnetometer and Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer observations 2014
Steady‐state field‐aligned currents at Mercury 2014
Structure and dynamics of Mercury’s magnetospheric cusp: MESSENGER measurements of protons and planetary ions 2014
The formation of lunar mascon basins from impact to contemporary form 2014
The gravity field, orientation, and ephemeris of Mercury from MESSENGER observations after three years in orbit 2014
The tides of Mercury and possible implications for its interior structure 2014
The Velocity Distribution of Pickup He+ Measured at 3.0 AU By Messenger 2014
An Assemblage of Lava Flow Features on Mercury 2013
Craters Hosting Radar-Bright Deposits in Mercury's North Polar Region: Areas of Persistent Shadow Determined from MESSENGER Images 2013
Cyclic reformation of a quasi-parallel bow shock at Mercury: MESSENGER observations 2013
Dark Spots on Mercury: A Distinctive Low-Reflectance Material and Its Relation to Hollows 2013
Distribution and Compositional Variations of Plasma Ions in Mercury's Space Environment: The First Three Mercury Years of MESSENGER Variations 2013
Insights into the subsurface structure of the Caloris basin, Mercury, from assessments of mechanical layering and changes in long-wavelength topography 2013
Investigating the Origin of Candidate Lava Channels on Mercury with MESSENGER Data: Theory and Observations 2013
Magnetic flux pileup and plasma depletion in Mercury’s subsolar magnetosheath 2013
Mercury's Hollows: Constraints on Formation and Composition from Analysis of Geological Setting and Spectral Reflectance 2013
Mercury's Magnetopause and Bow Shock from MESSENGER Magnetometer Observations 2013
MESSENGER Observations of Magnetopause Structure and Dynamics at Mercury 2013
Solar Wind Forcing at Mercury: WSA-ENLIL Model Results 2013
The curious case of Mercury's internal structure 2013
The Distribution and Origin of Smooth Plains on Mercury 2013
The Origin of Graben and Ridges in Rachmaninoff, Raditladi, and Mozart Basins, Mercury 2013
The Redox State, FeO Content, and Origin of Sulfur-Rich Magmas on Mercury 2013
Thermal Evolution of Mercury as Constrained by MESSENGER Observations 2013
Aluminum Abundance on the Surface of Mercury: Application of a New Background-Reduction Technique for the Analysis of Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy Data 2012
Characteristics of the Plasma Distribution in Mercury's Equatorial Magnetosphere Derived from MESSENGER Magnetometer Observations 2012
Characterization of the Morphometry of Impact Craters Hosting Polar Deposits in Mercury's North Polar Region 2012
Chemical Heterogeneity on Mercury's Surface Revealed by the MESSENGER X-Ray Spectrometer 2012
Deformation Associated with Ghost Craters and Basins in Volcanic Smooth Plains on Mercury: Strain Analysis and Implications for Plains Evolution 2012
Large Impact Basins on Mercury: Global Distribution, Characteristics, and Modification History from MESSENGER Orbital Data 2012
Low-Degree Structure in Mercury's Planetary Magnetic Field 2012
Major-Element Abundances on the Surface of Mercury: Results from the MESSENGER Gamma-Ray Spectrometer 2012
Mercury's Moment of Inertia from Spin and Gravity Data 2012
MESSENGER Detection of Electron-Induced X-Ray Fluorescence from Mercury's surface 2012
MESSENGER Observations of a Flux-Transfer-Event Shower at Mercury 2012
MESSENGER Observations of Dipolarization Events in Mercury's Magnetotail 2012
MESSENGER Observations of Mercury's Magnetic Field Structure 2012
Observations of Interstellar Helium Pickup Ions in the Inner Heliosphere 2012
On the Origin of Graben and Ridges within and near Volcanically Buried Craters and Basins in Mercury's Northern Plains 2012
Solar Wind Alpha Particles and Heavy Ions in the Inner Heliosphere Observed with MESSENGER 2012
Spatial Distribution and Spectral Characteristics of Energetic Electrons in Mercury's Magnetosphere 2012
Survey of Coherent ~1 Hz Waves in Mercury's Inner Magnetosphere from MESSENGER Observations 2012
Variations in the Abundances of Potassium and Thorium on the Surface of Mercury: Results from the MESSENGER Gamma-Ray Spectrometer 2012
Internal and Tectonic Evolution of Mercury 2004