Higgins Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Seismology Division, Palisades, NY, USA.
Dr. Sykes contributed significantly to the application of seismology in formulating and refining plate tectonics. He proved the importance of mid-ocean ridge transform faults in accommodating plate motion on a spherical earth, and laid the groundwork for deciphering plate motion from earthquake focal mechanisms and the precise location of epicenters at mid-ocean ridges, transform faults and deep-sea trenches. He co-authored "Seismology and the New Global Tectonics" in 1968, which demonstrated how much of existing seismological data could be explained in terms of plate-tectonic theory.
Firmly committed to the application of basic research to societal needs, he now concentrates on earthquake forecasting and prediction, the seismic character of tectonic plate subduction, and the seismological verification of underground nuclear test-ban treaties.
Dr. Sykes is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the Geological Society of London and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has held both Sloan and Guggenheim fellowships, and has received AGU's Macelwane and Bucher awards, as well as the Medal of the Seismological Society of America. The Federation of American Scientists presented him its Public Service Award for working to revive scientific and public interest in a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Dr. Sykes has testified before Congress six times as an expert on nuclear test verification, and teaches a popular undergraduate course on natural disasters and hazards.
Sykes, L.R. "Mechanism of earthquakes and nature of faulting on the mid-oceanic ridges," Journal of Geophysical Research, 72:2131-2153 (1967).
Sykes, L.R. and D.M. Davis. "The yields of Soviet strategic weapons," Scientific American, 256(1):29-37 (1987).
Sykes, L.R. and S.C. Jaume. "Seismic activity on neighbouring faults as a long-term precursor to large earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay area," Nature, 348:595-599 (1990).