Vincent Courtillot#


  • Professor, Université Paris-Diderot
  • Member, Institut Universitaire de France
  • Member, French, European and Chinese Academies of Sciences

Vincent Courtillot (born 1948) is a professor of geophysics at University Paris Diderot and the Director of Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris. He also holds the chair of Paleomagnetism and Geodynamics at Institut Universitaire de France. He has taught at Stanford, UC Santa Barbara and Caltech. He holds degrees from the Paris School of Mines, Stanford University, University Pierre et Marie Curie and University Paris Diderot.

His research has focused on the Earth’s magnetic field, both past and present (geomagnetism and paleomagnetism) and on plate tectonics and Earth geodynamics, about which he has published nearly 200 papers. His recent research has focused on mantle plumes, on the timing and duration of massive flood basalt eruptions in relation to species mass extinctions, and to recent climate change.
In 1999, he published a book entitled “Catastrophes in Earth’s History : the science of mass extinction” (Cambridge University Press). He published a second book, entitled “New Voyage to the Center of the Earth”, in the Fall of 2009.

Vincent Courtillot is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of Academia Europaea and the French and Chineses Academies of Sciences. He has received a number of awards from CNRS (Silver Medal) and the French Academy of Sciences (Gay and Dolomieu prizes). He is past president of the European Union of Geosciences and has been in charge of overseeing French research organizations, research funding and graduate studies in French universities, in various capacities as director or special adviser of the Ministries in charge of Education, Research and Technology (in 1988-93 and 1997-2001). He currently chairs the scientific council of the City of Paris and is past-president of the Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism section of the American Geophysical Union.

Born, March 6, 1948, in Neuilly sur Seine
French citizen, married (Michèle Courtillot, professor of English, PhD in American literature), two children (Carine, MD, born 1973 and Raphaël, MSc clinical psychology, born 1977)

Education:
  • 1971 Mining Engineer (Paris National School of Mines, ranked 1st both incoming and outgoing)
  • 1972 Master of Science, Geophysics, Stanford University
  • 1974 « 3rd cycle » PhD, University Paris VI (geophysics)
  • 1977 « State » PhD, University Paris VII (geophysics)

Career:
  • 1973-77 Assistant Professor 1, University Paris VII
  • 1974 (summer) Invited Researcher, Stanford University
  • 1977-78 Assistant Professor 2, University Paris VII
  • 1978-83 Associate Professor, University Paris VII
  • 1980 (summer) Invited Professor, Stanford University
  • 1983-89 Physicien titulaire (Full Professor), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris
  • 1986-87 Invited Professor, University of California at Santa Barbara
  • 1989-94 Physicien (Full Professor, « exceptional class »), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris
  • 1989-93 Director of the Ministry of National Education for Research and Graduate Studies in all French Universities
  • 1993-96 Scientific adviser to the director of research, Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (French Geological Survey)
  • 1994- Full Professor, « exceptional class », Université Paris VII
  • 1994 (spring) Invited Professor (Fairchild Distinguished Scholar) at the California Institute of Technology
  • 1995-98 Director, Graduate School for the Earth Sciences (IPGP-Paris VII)
  • 1996- Full Professor, Institut Universitaire de France
  • 1996 (spring) Invited Professor (Gerald Stanton Ford Lecturer) at the University of Minnesota
  • 1996-98 Director, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris
  • 1997-98 Special adviser to the Minister of Education, Research and Technology
  • 1998-01 Director for Research, Ministry of Education, Research and Technology (supervising all French Research effort)
  • 2001-02 Invited Professor (Moore Fellow) at the California Institute of Technology
  • 2002-09 President, Scientific Council of the City of Paris
  • 2004- Director, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris

Scientific Unions:
  • American Geophysical Union (Member since 1971, Fellow since 1990)
  • President « Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism » section of AGU 2007-2009
  • French National Committee for Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG-IAGA, since 1975)
  • European Union of Geosciences (since 1981, President in 1995-97)
  • Academia Europaea (since 1994)
  • Royal Astronomical Society (Fellow since 1997)
  • French Academy of Sciences (since 2003)
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences (since 2008)

Journal Editor:
  • European Editor of Geophysical Research Letters (1994-96)
  • Associate Editor of Geology, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors,
  • Marine Geophysical Researches, Tectonics, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (various periods over 1980 to 2002)
  • Editor, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2003-2005)


Awards:

  • 1981 Prix Gay, French Academy of Sciences
  • 1985 First Franco-Britannic Prize (French Academy of Sciences and Royal Society)
  • 1990 Fellow, American Geophysical Union
  • 1990 Knight, Ordre National du Mérite
  • 1993 Silver medal of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
  • 1994 Fairchild Distinguished Scholar (Cal Tech)
  • 1994 Member, Academia Europaea
  • 1994 Knight, Légion d’honneur
  • 1996 Gerald Stanton Ford Lecturer (University of Minnesota)
  • 1996 Professor, Institut Universitaire de France
  • 1997 Associate, Royal Astronomical Society
  • 1997 Officer, Ordre National du Mérite
  • 1997 Commander, Ordre National des Palmes Académiques
  • 1997 Rosone d’Oro (Italy)
  • 2001 Dolomieu Prize, French Academy of Sciences
  • 2001Moore Distinguished Fellow (CalTech)
  • 2002 “Geological Society of London Lecturer”
  • 2002“Louis Clark Vanuxem Lecturer” (Princeton)
  • 2002First “Bullard Lecturer”,American Geophysical Union
  • 2003 Member, French Academy of Sciences
  • 2006 André Dumont Medal and invited speaker (Société Geologica Belgica, Belgian Geological Society
  • 2008 Member, Chinese Academy of Scinces

PhD supervision:

ACHACHE, J., University Paris 7, 1984. Paléomagnétisme des zones actives. Croissance, destruction et déformation des marges continentales.

LEE GIDONG, University Paris 7, 1984. Paléomagnétisme des déformations crétacées de la Corée du Sud.

MOREAU, M.G., University Paris 7, 1986. Paléomagnétisme en zones orogéniques - problème des ré aimantations. Applications du paléomagnétisme à la volcanologie et à la bio chronologie.

BESSE, J., University Paris 7, 1986. Cinématique des plaques et dérive des pôles magnétiques: évolution de la Téthys, collisions continentales et couplage noyau-manteau.

GIBERT, D., University Paris 7, 1988. Le Géoïde altimétrique: traitement de l'information et application à la géodynamique de l'Atlantique Sud.

GALLET, Y., University Paris 7, 1988. La magnétostratigraphie: aspects fondamentaux et appliqués.

ENKIN, R.J., University Paris 7, 1990. Formation et Déformation de l'Asie depuis la fin de l'ère primaire.

VANDAMME, D., University Paris 7, 1990. Apport du Paléomagnétisme à l'estimation de l'âge, de la durée, de l'origine et des conséquences éventuelles du volcanisme des Traps du Deccan.

MARY, C., University Paris 7, 1990. Les inversions du champ magnétique terrestre: Etude de la fidélité de deux enregistrements magnétostratigraphiques et représentation vectorielle du champ magnétique transitionnel.

CHEN, Y., University Paris 7, 1992. Evolution tectonique le long d'une transversale entre Inde et Sibérie: Apports de nouvelles données paléomagnétiques crétacées du Tibet, du Tarim et de la Dzungarie.

YANG, Z. University Paris 7, 1992 Jointly supervised with J. Besse Contraintes paléomagnétiques sur l'histoire géodynamique de l'Asie du Sud-Est: les apports de l'étude paléomagnétique du mésozoïque des blocs de Chine du Nord, Chine du Sud et Indochine.

GRUSZOW, S. University Paris 7, 1992 Jointly supervised with J.L. Le Mouël Etude aéromagnétique et paléomagnétique du territoire de la République de Djibouti.

MANIGHETTI, I., University Paris 7, 1993. Jointly supervised with P. Tapponnier Dynamique des systèmes extensifs en Afar.

HOFMANN, C., University Paris 7, 1997. Jointly supervised with G. Féraud Age et durée de la mise en place des traps d'Ethiopie.

HALIM, N., University Paris 7, 1998. Jointly supervised with J.P. Cogné and S. Gilder Contribution du paléomagnétisme à la compréhension de la tectonique post collision entre Inde et Sibérie.

CARLUT, J. , University Paris 7, 1998. Caractéristiques spatiales et temporelles du champ magnétique terrestre à l’échelle des temps géologiques : nouvelles données paléomagnétiques et modélisation.

AUDIN, L University Paris 7, 1999. Jointly supervised with P. Tapponnier Pénétration de la dorsale d’Aden dans la dépression Afar entre 20 et 4 Ma.

T. KIDANE, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 1999. Contribution à l’étude paléomagnétique et géochronologique de l’évolution cinématique de la dépression Afar au cours des trois derniers millions d’années.

A.L. CHENET, University Paris 7, 2006. Jointly supervised with F. Fluteau Reconstruction de la séquence éruptive des traps du Deccan (Inde) : conséquences climatiques et environnementales

M. MOULIN, University Paris 7, due 2010. Jointly supervised with F. Fluteau Reconstruction de la séquence éruptive des traps du Karoo (Afrique du Sud) : conséquences climatiques et environnementales

Last updated: 2009

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