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Lijun Liu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



Jiashun Hu, Lijun Liu, Manuele Faccenda, Quan Zhou, Karen M. Fischer, Stephen Marshak, and Craig Lundstrom (2018): Modification of the Western Gondwana Craton by Plume-Lithosphere Interaction, Nature Geoscience, Springer Nature


Jiashun Hu, Manuele Faccenda, and Lijun Liu (2017): Subduction-Controlled Mantle Flow and Seismic Anisotropy in South America, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier BV, Vol 470, pp13--24


L. Liu, and D. Hasterok (2016): High-Resolution Lithosphere Viscosity and Dynamics Revealed by Magnetotelluric Imaging, Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Vol 353, Num 6307, pp1515--1519
Q. Zhou, and L. Liu (2016): Formation of the Yellowstone Volcanic Province due to Intruding Hot Oceanic Asthenosphere, Nature (submitted)
Jiashun Hu, and Lijun Liu (2016): Abnormal Seismological and Magmatic Processes Controlled by the Tearing South American Flat Slabs, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier BV, Vol 450, pp40--51
Jiashun Hu, Lijun Liu, Armando Hermosillo, and Quan Zhou (2016): Simulation of Late Cenozoic South American Flat-Slab Subduction Using Geodynamic Models with Data Assimilation, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier BV, Vol 438, pp1--13
Paul L. Heller, and Lijun Liu (2016): Dynamic Topography and Vertical Motion of the U.S. Rocky Mountain Region Prior to and During the Laramide Orogeny, Geological Society of America Bulletin, Geological Society of America, Vol 128, Num 5-6, pp973--988
Tiffany Leonard, and Lijun Liu (2016): The Role of a Mantle Plume in the Formation of Yellowstone Volcanism, Geophys. Res. Lett., Wiley-Blackwell, Vol 43, Num 3, pp1132--1139
L. Liu, C. Chang, A. Kelbert, A. Anders, and J. Bass (2016): Stable Continental-scale drainage of North America: Implications for Deep Mantle Hydration, Nature Geoscience (submitted)


Lijun Liu and Jin S. Zhang (2015): Differential Contraction of Subducted Lithosphere Layers Generates Deep Earthquakes, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier BV, Vol 421, pp98-106
Lijun Liu (2015): The Ups and Downs of North America: Evaluating the Role of Mantle Dynamic Topography Since the Mesozoic, Rev. Geophys., Wiley-Blackwell, Vol 53, Num 3, pp1022--1049
Lijun Liu, and Quan Zhou (2015): Deep Recycling of Oceanic Asthenosphere Material During Subduction, Geophys. Res. Lett., Wiley-Blackwell, Vol 42, Num 7, pp2204--2211


Lijun Liu (2014): Constraining Cretaceous Subduction Polarity in Eastern Pacific from Seismic Tomography and Geodynamic Modeling, Geophysical Research Letters, Wiley-Blackwell, Vol 41, Num 22, pp8029-8036
Lijun Liu (2014): Rejuvenation of Appalachian Topography Caused by Subsidence-Induced Differential Erosion, Nature Geoscience, Nature Publishing Group, Vol 7, Num 7, pp518--523

17 campus teams to accelerate their research with Blue Waters

Jun 10, 2015

Seventeen U of I research teams from a wide range of disciplines have been awarded computational and data resources on the sustained-petascale Blue Waters supercomputer at NCSA. “These diverse projects highlight the breadth of computational research at the University of Illinois,” said Athol Kemball, associate professor of Astronomy and chair of the Illinois allocation review committee. “Illinois has a tremendous pool of talented researchers in fields from political science to chemistry to engineering who can harness the power of Blue Waters to discover and innovate.”


22 Illinois projects receive time on Blue Waters

Jun 11, 2013

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has awarded access to the Blue Waters supercomputer—which is capable of performing quadrillions of calculations every second and of working with quadrillions of bytes of data—to 22 campus research teams from a wide range of disciplines. The computing and data capabilities of Blue Waters, which is operated by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), will assist researchers in their work on understanding DNA, developing biofuels, simulating climate, and more.


Supercomputing helps researchers understand Earth's interior

May 26, 2017

Contrary to posters you may have seen hanging on the walls in science buildings and classrooms, Lijun Liu, professor of geology at Illinois, knows that Earth's interior is not like an onion. While most textbooks demonstrate the outer surface of the Earth as the crust, the next inner level as the mantle, and then the most inner layer as the core, Liu said the reality isn't as clear-cut.


New research brings earthquake prediction a step closer

Nov 21, 2016

Scientists may be a step closer to predicting volcanic activity and earthquakes thanks to research conducted using the Blue Waters supercomputer. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign geology professor Lijun Liu and his collaborator Derrick Hasterok at the University of Adelaide in Australia ran models of 100 cores each on Blue Waters to help them develop a method to estimate weakness in the Earth’s outer layers.


Strength of Earth's outer shell can be measured, weak spots pinpointed

Oct 3, 2016

The researchers developed a method for measuring strength and finding weak spots in the lithosphere, the outer layers of earth that include the crust and the outer mantle -- the molten rock lurking just under the surface that can well up and create volcanoes. The researchers found that calculating lithosphere strength using magnetotelluric imaging maps of the southwestern United States can more accurately describe the rough terrain and volcanic and seismic activity observed on the surface than can standard geologic models. The study by U. of I. geology professor Lijun Liu and Adelaide professor Derrick Hasterok is reported in the journal Science.


Yellowstone's Supervolcano Gets a Lid

Mar 7, 2016

Simmering deep below the geysers and hot springs of the Yellowstone caldera is a dormant supervolcano—a powerful behemoth with the ability to blanket the western U.S. with many centimeters of ash in a matter of hours. What could spark such a powerful eruption? Scientists have long debated over the origins of Yellowstone’s supervolcano, with the most widely accepted idea suggesting that it was formed by a mantle plume—a column of hot rocks emerging from deep within our planet, in the mantle layer. But a new simulation shows that the conventional wisdom was wrong. The plume could not have reached the surface because it was blocked by a slab from an ancient tectonic plate. ... The simulation results of the model, which is the first to replicate the complex interaction between a mantle plume and a sinking slab, was detailed last month in Geophysical Research Letters. Lijun Liu, a geologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and his graduate student Tiffany Leonard built the model to replicate both the plate tectonic history of the surface and the geophysical image of Earth’s interior.


Blue Waters solves Yellowstone mystery

Feb 17, 2016

The Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone National Park has thrilled park visitors for over a century, but it wasn’t until this year that scientists figured out the geophysical factors powering it. With over 2 million visitors annually, Yellowstone remains one of the most popular nature destinations in the US. Spanning an area of almost 3,500 square miles, the park sits atop the Yellowstone Caldera. This caldera is the largest supervolcano in North America, and is responsible for the park’s geothermal activity. Until last week, most geologists had explained this activity with the so-called mantle plume hypothesis. This elegant theory proposed an idealized situation where hot columns of mantle rock rose from the core-mantle boundary all the way to the surface, fueling the supervolcano and the geothermal geysers. This theory didn’t sit well with Lijun Liu, assistant professor in the department of Geology at the University of Illinois, however.


Study challenges widely accepted theory of Yellowstone formation

Feb 10, 2016

Understanding the complex geological processes that form supervolcanoes could ultimately help geologists determine what triggers their eruptions. A new study using an advanced computer model casts doubt on previously held theories about the Yellowstone supervolcano’s origins, adding to the mystery of Yellowstone’s formation. “Our model covered the entire history of Yellowstone volcanic activities,” said Lijun Liu, a geology professor at the University of Illinois. Liu’s computer model accounted for the last 40 million years, prior to even the earliest signs of Yellowstone’s volcanism.


Preparing for breakthrough geology

May 2, 2014

Normal procedure for running a job on Blue Waters goes something like this: compile the code; create an executable; write a submission script; submit the script; and the scheduler runs the script. The script specifies how many nodes to run on, and the scheduler allocates resources on the machine. Once the job is launched, it will run on whatever nodes are set aside for that job. When it comes to running jobs using community codes—which are complex in their structure but all-purpose in their construction and execution—things can get tricky, especially when using a code for the first time on a new machine. For Lijun Liu, self-proclaimed geodynamicist in training and computational geologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this is the very challenge he ran into when first attempting to use a community code on the Blue Waters supercomputer—which he hopes to use in the study of large-scale deformation of the earth through numerical simulations.


Western US volcanism due to intruding oceanic mantle driven by ancient Farallon slabs

Dec 18, 2017

The origin of late Cenozoic intraplate volcanism over the western United States is debated. One important reason is the lack of a clear understanding of the mantle dynamics during this volcanic history. Here we reconstruct the mantle thermal states beneath North America since 20 million years ago using a hybrid inverse geodynamic model with data assimilation. The model simultaneously satisfies the past subduction kinematics, present mantle tomographic image and the volcanic history. We find that volcanism in both the Yellowstone volcanic province and the Basin and Range province corresponds to a similar eastward-intruding mantle derived from beneath the Pacific Ocean and driven mostly by the sinking Farallon slab below the central-eastern United States.


Continental interiors may not be as tectonically stable as geologists think

Feb 19, 2018

The researchers processed geophysical data with the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at Illinois hoping to better understand these high-elevation regions. The thick roots of cratons have been thought to be buoyant due to their low-density mineral content, allowing them to float on top of the hot underlying mantle. However, the new data indicate that the cold mantle that lies below these regions in South America and Africa – once joined as part of the supercontinent Pangea – has a layered structure and that the lower layer was more dense in the past than it is today.