University of Utah
University of Utah
Bob Smith's Home Page
An Interdisciplinary Academic Program in Earth Science
Bob Smith's research interests are in seismology, tectonophysics, crustal deformation using GPS (Global Positioning System), and active tectonics. Current research projects include: 1) geodynamics of and evolution of the Yellowstone hotspot and the Yellowstone caldera, 2) seismicity and volcanic hazards of Yellowstone and operation of the Yellowstone seismograph network, and 3) crustal deformation and earthquake hazards of the Wasatch and Teton faults using GPS and fault modeling. Teaching includes tectonophysics and elastic waves, theoretical seismology, earthquake seismology and earthquake hazards, and introductory earthquakes and volcanoes. See detailed information on my courses and research below.

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Teton Range, Wasatch Range & Fault, Steamboat Geyser, Teton Scarp
Above, from left to right: Teton Range, Wasatch Range, Steamboat Geyser, and Teton fault scarp

Recent Yellowstone Research

New research has focused on Yellowstone hotspot geodynamics and geophysical imaging of the hotspot and its associated mantle plume, with further work exploring the volcanic and tectonic processes driving earthquakes and ground deformation. Ten new papers since 2007 have employed seismic, GPS, and gravity measurements to better understand earthquake processes and related hazards (4, 9, 10), lithospheric structure and properties (1, 3, 5), volcanic deformation of the Yellowstone caldera (2, 7), Yellowstone's role in regional tectonics (6), and hotspot geodynamics (8). Four of these papers are to be published in a special Yellowstone issue of JVGR on 20 November, 2009.

  1. Chang, W. L., and R. B. Smith, 2009, Rheological properties of extensional lithosphere from postseismic relaxation of the 1959 M=7.5 Hebgen Lake Montana earthquake, J. Geophys. Res., (in revision).

  2. Chang, W., R.B. Smith, C. Wicks, C. Puskas, and J. Farrell, 2007, Accelerated uplift and source models of the Yellowstone caldera, 2004-2006, From GPS and InSAR observations, Science, 318(5852), 952-956, doi:.1126/science.1146842.
    PDF of article

  3. DeNosaquo, K.R., R.B. Smith, and A. R. Lowry, 2009, Density and lithospheric strength models of the Yellowstone-Snake River Plain volcanic system from gravity and heat flow data, J. Vol. Geotherm. Res, (in press).

  4. Farrell, J. M., S. Husen, and R.B. Smith, 2009, Earthquake swarm identification and b-value mapping of the Yellowstone volcanic-tectonic system, J. Vol. Geotherm. Res, (in press).

  5. Pollitz, F. F., McCory, P., Wilson, D., Svarc, J., Puskas, C. and Smith, R.B., 2009, Remarks on interseismic deformation in the western United States, J. Geophys. Res., (in press).

  6. Puskas C. M., R. B. Smith, 2009, Intraplate deformation and microplate tectonics of the Yellowstone hot spot and surrounding western U.S. interior, J. Geophys. Res., 114, B04410, doi:10.1029/2008JB005940.
    PDF of article

  7. Puskas, C., R. B. Smith, C. M. Meertens and W. L. Chang, 2007, Crustal deformation of the Yellowstone-Snake River Plain Volcanic System: campaign and continuous GPS observations, 1987-2004, J. Geophys. Res, v. 112, B03401, doi:10.1029/2006JB004325.
    PDF of article

  8. Smith, R.B. M. Jordan, B. Steinberger, C. Puskas, J. Farrell, G. P. Waite, S. Husen, W. Chang, and R. O'Connell, 2009, Geodynamics of the Yellowstone Hotspot and mantle plume: seismic and GPS Imaging, kinematics and mantle flow, J. Vol. Geotherm. Res, (in press).

  9. Taira, T., R. B. Smith and W. L. Chang, 2009, Seismic evidence for dilatational deformation accompanying the 2004-2008 Yellowstone accelerated uplift episode, J. Geophys. Res., (in press).

  10. White, B.J.P., R.B. Smith, S. Husen, J. Farrell, and I. Wong, 2009, Seismicity and earthquake hazard analysis of the Teton-Yellowstone region, Wyoming, J. Vol. Geotherm. Res, (in press).


Other Research at Yellowstone and Utah

Ongoing research projects investigate not only the Yellowstone hotspot but the Wasatch Front and Utah as well. These studies focus on fault dynamics and earthquake hazards of the Wasatch fault, seismicity of the Intermountain Seismic Belt, and tectonics of the Intermountain region, including the eastern Basin-Range and Yellowstone hotspot.

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) was established in May 2001 to study and monitor the Yellowstone Volcanic Field. The Observatory is a collaboration between the University of Utah, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Yellowstone National Park. For more information, visit

Bob Smith may be contacted at:
Department of Geology and Geophysics
University of Utah
Room 243
115 South 1460 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0102

phone: 801 581 7129

©&nbsp2000 Robert B. Smith