James William Head, III

General Activities:

I enjoy the exploration of outer space and the study of the Earth in the context of the Solar System, the exploration of inner space, teaching, and research.

Teaching Activities:

Teaching activities include Mars, Moon, and the Earth (GEO 5), an introductory course for non-concentrators, and Planetary Evolution: The Moon, a graduate level course.

Research Interests:

Research interests continue to be linked to themes of planetary evolution and the role of volcanism and tectonism in the formation and evolution of planetary crusts. Several research projects are underway to determine the nature of what appears to be the catastrophic resurfacing of Venus some 300-500 Ma ago. In collaboration with Marc Parmentier, Paul Hess, and several students, we have been investigating the possibility that the apparently global catastrophic event may have been related to the loss of a vertically accreting depleted mantle layer. This may have involved massive deformation of the surface, formation of some continental-like highlands, and large-scale volcanic flooding, all elements observed to varying degrees in the Magellan data.

A major interest is in the formation and evolution of volcanic centers and edifices, the formation and evolution of magma reservoirs, and the interaction of growing volcanoes with the surrounding substrate through loading and instability development. We have been examining terrestrial analogs to constrain planetary volcanic processes and we have been focusing on Kilauea, Hawaii, and related eruptions. Recent work includes the assessment of dike emplacement in the East Rift Zone, the analysis of the eruption of Kilauea Iki, the emplacement of dikes in the walls of the Kilauea caldera, and the link to understanding planetary volcanic processes. I continue to work with Lionel Wilson (Visiting Professor, University of Lancaster, England) to develop theoretical predictions on the ascent and eruption of magma, and the way in which eruption styles differ, and to compare these to the nature of observed volcanic surface deposits on the Earth and planets. We have been working on treatments of the Earth, Moon, Venus, and an overview of theoretical predictions and observations for Mars was recently published in Reviews of Geophysics.

Tectonic features such as linear rilles and graben are being analyzed to assess the role of volcanism and plutonism in their production, and to distinguish these processes from other tectonic processes producing similar features. We are looking at the formation of surface deformation through dike emplacement and how to use this to determine regional and global stress fields on the planets. Analysis of the possibility of subduction on Venus includes assessment of the fate of underthrust slabs and other instabilities in the crust and depleted mantle layer. We are also analyzing the tectonics of the icy satellites of the outer planets, with particular emphasis on the breakup of the dark terrain on Ganymede and the emplacement and deformation of the light terrain.

Dr. Alexander "Sasha" Basilevsky, the director of the Laboratory for Comparative Planetology of the Vernadsky Institute in Moscow, has continued to visit Brown and pursue his research mapping the areas surrounding the very successful Venera landers that descended to the surface of Venus several years ago. In addition, we have been mapping the stratigraphy of over thirty sites on Venus and combining these into a global stratigraphic correlation chart which is providing interesting information on the recent sequence of events in the apparently catastrophic history of Venus.

Recent publications summarize progress on this research.

The 38th Brown/Vernadsky Microsymposium will tale place in Moscow, in October 2003. We have seen much change since the 18th Microsymposium in 1993, when we experienced a major curfew, roadblocks, and saw a still-smoldering White House. In addition to the great excitement and all the stories that everyone has to tell, a lot of great scientific interaction will take place. Microsymposium 37, "Mars: Formation and evolution of the Late Amazonian latitude-dependent ice-rich mantling layer," was held in conjunction with the 34th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas in March 2003.

Mission Involvement:

Exploration of outer space includes involvement with several space exploration missions. As a member of the Galileo Solid State Imaging Team, we have been examining images from the two Earth-Moon encounters and the two asteroid encounters. Images from the Galileo encounter with the 11 x 18 km diameter asteroid Gaspra have shown in detail for the first time the cratered and grooved surface of an asteroidal body similar to ones thought to be the sources of many meteorites. Excellent images were also returned from the Galileo encounter of a second asteroid, Ida. These small bodies are important building blocks of planets and they are representative of the population of bodies that make craters on planetary surfaces. An exciting event was the discovery of a small moon, named Dactyl, about a km in diameter, orbiting the asteroid Ida! The Galileo spacecraft continues toward a rendezvous with Jupiter in 1995 and we are in the final stages of planning the sequences for image data acquisition and coordinating these with other instruments. At Brown we are specifically responsible for the development of the sequences for Ganymede.

Participating scientist activities on the Russian Mars 96 and Mars 98 missions include being a co-investigator on the German camera. We are currently working on several activities concerning target selection and coordination with other experiments.

The phenomenally successful Magellan mission successfully mapped over 95% of the surface of Venus and acquired high-resolution gravity data before terminating in the Fall of 1994. We have been active in all phases of this mission and are now engaged in the analysis of data.

Involvement with the Mars Surveyor Mission includes participation in the Mars Orbiting Laser Altimeter experiment, which will acquire a global topographic map of Mars which will be extremely useful in the study of geological processes and the internal structure of the planet.

Recent Publications:

(see publication list for more complete listing)

Basilevsky, A. T. and J. W. Head III. Venus: Timing and rates of geologic activity
Geology November 2002, v. 30, no. 11, p. 1015-1018.

Hiesinger, H., and J. W. Head. Topography and morphology of the Argyre Basin,Mars:implications for its geologic and hydrologic history,
Planetary and Space Sci. 50 (2002) 939-981.

Head, J., et al. Evidence for Europa-like tectonic resurfacing styles on Ganymede
Geophys. Res. Lett., 29 (24), 2151, doi:10.1029/2002GL015961, 2002.

Head, J. W., M. A. Kreslavsky and S. Pratt. Northern lowlands of Mars: Evidence for widespread volcanic flooding and tectonic deformation in the Hesperian Period,
J. Geophys. Res., 107(E1), 10.1029/2000JE001445, 2002.

Wilson, L and J. W. Head III. Deep Submarine Pyroclastic Eruptions: Theory and Predicted Landforms and Deposits,
J. Volcanology and Geothermal Res. 121 (2003) pp 155-193.


Personal Interests:

I enjoy the exploration of outer space and the study of the Earth in the context of the Solar System, the exploration of inner space, teaching, and research. I enjoy taking courses at Brown, mostly in psychology, biology, political science, social psychology, and semiotics, and at the Rhode Island School of Design in art, drawing, baking, and cooking. Exploration of inner space includes a fascination with animal behavior and the relation of different time and space scales to concepts that humans describe as genetics, cultural identity, national identity, religious identity, personality, and behavior. Most recently, I have been reading about animal culture. I am also interested in the psychological and physiological aspects of human perception, and its roots in general animal behavior.

I collect Soviet and other international space memorabilia, and beer bottles. The explosive development of microbreweries has, regrettably, caused me to seriously question whether I will ever achieve a life-long goal of tasting one of every type of beer brewed in the inner solar system, but the quest goes on. I like to run, travel, read, and listen to music (Spin Doctors, Vivaldi, k.d. lang, U2, Bach, Chrissie Hynde, Henry Rollins, Mozart, and Stone Temple Pilots). Recent reading includes:

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