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Dapeng Zhao

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Name: Dapeng Zhao
Position: Professor of Geophysics
Laboratory: Research Center for Prediction of Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions
Hometown: China
Posted Date: 2012. 04. 20


My research field is Earthquake Seismology. So far I have mainly used seismological methods such as seismic tomography to study the three-dimensional (3-D) structure of the Earth's interior and its relationship to the generating mechanism of earthquakes, origin of active volcanoes, and deep Earth dynamics. I determined a 3-D structure model of the whole Earth's mantle and revealed low seismic-velocity anomalies under the major hotspot volcanoes, which may reflect hot mantle plumes ascending to the Earth's surface from the core-mantle boundary at ~2900 km depth. I also proposed a big mantle wedge (BMW) model to explain the seismotectonics, volcanism and geodynamics of the East Asia region. This BMW model suggests that the deep subductions of the Pacific and Philippine Sea plates have significantly affected the seismic and volcanic activities of not only the Japan Islands but also Korean Peninsula and eastern parts of China. Recently I determined the first 3-D structure model of the lunar interior and found that structural heterogeneities in the lunar mantle may affect the generation of deep moonquakes.


I was an undergraduate student in Peking University during 1980 to 1984 and got a bachelor degree in July 1984. Then I learned Japanese for about 10 months in Dalian College of Foreign Languages before coming to Tohoku University in Sendai in October 1985. When I was in Peking University, I hoped to go to study in USA or a European country because I learned English and knew nothing about Japanese. But when I graduated in 1984, there was no chance for me to go to an English-speaking country, while there was a chance to study in Japan being supported by Chinese Ministry of Education. I entered the Graduate School of Science of Tohoku University in April 1986 after succeeding in a strict entrance examination, and obtained my Master degree in 1988 and doctoral degree in 1991, both in geophysics. Then I went to USA and continued my seismological studies in University of Alaska Fairbanks, California Institute of Technology, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In early 1998 I went to work at Ehime University in Shikoku Island, Japan as Associate Professor, and was promoted to Full Professor in 2003. I came back to Sendai as Professor of Geophysics in Tohoku University in April 2007 and have been working here till now.
     As mentioned above, so far I have studied and worked in eight universities in China, USA and Japan. Although all of these places are very nice and I had very pleasant and productive times there, the best place which I love the most is Tohoku University in Sendai. There are several reasons for that. The first is that Tohoku University is one of the top universities in Japan and also one of the best universities in the world, at least in my research field (seismology and geophysics). During the last 100 years, many famous geophysicists have worked in our Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, and they have made a number of important discoveries which have been described in the text books of Earth Sciences, such as Prof. J. Suzuki who made the very early studies of microearthquakes, Prof. T. Hirasawa on the pioneering studies of earthquake source process, Dr. S. Tanaka and Prof. H. Hamaguchi on their discovery of the hemispheric structure of the Earth's inner core, Profs. N. Umino, A. Hasegawa and A. Takagi on their discovery of the double seismic zone, among many others. The seismic tomography studies which I was involved in are also very famous and described in text books of many countries. The research facilities and environment here are also very excellent. Therefore, Tohoku University is a very attractive place to those who like to learn and study the top-level sciences.
The second reason I love Sendai is that the natural environment here is very nice and the weather is also very pleasant. Sendai is called "Capital of Forest", so you can imagine what a beautiful and nice place it is! Here in Sendai it is not hot in summer and not cold in winter, and so I feel very comfortable in all of the four seasons.
     The third reason is that the people in Sendai are very kind and easy to get along with. This is a very safe place and one can feel free to walk on the streets at midnights. The foods here (the so-called Tohoku-Ryori), in particular, the sea foods, are very delicious and famous. The Tohoku foods are all very natural and clean, and so we do not worry about the food pollution at all as in some foreign countries.
These are the reasons why I and my family are enjoying the work and life here in Sendai. I look forward to seeing you here. Welcome to Tohoku University!

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