MacArthur Fellows Program

Susan W. Kieffer

Geologist and Planetary Scientist | Class of 1995

Geologist and Planetary Scientist
Vancouver, BC, Canada
53 at time of award
Area of Focus
Earth Sciences
Published July 1, 1995

About Susan's Work

Susan Kieffer, a geologist and planetary scientist, is a leading authority on nonlinear processes in meteorite impacts, in geyser and volcanic eruptions, and in river floods.

Kieffer’s work has significantly advanced the understanding of the complex processes that take place in impact-shocked, porous rocks.  She used shock wave theory to analyze the lateral blast at Mount St. Helens in 1980, and was the first to describe the physics and chemistry of the supersonic eruptions on Jupiter’s moon, Io.  Kieffer has studied the hydraulics of the rapids and waves in the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and related these to the geomorphic evolution of the Grand Canyon.  Her recent work involves the development of new methods of time- and interval-series analysis, with prediction applications in nonlinear Earth, environmental, and computer science.


Kieffer is the Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Chair and a professor of geology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She taught previously at the University of British Columbia (1993-1995), Arizona State University (1990-1991), and the University of California, Los Angeles (1973-1979).  Her numerous articles have appeared in such journals as Science, the Journal of Geophysical Research<,and Nature.

Kieffer received a B.S. (1964) from Allegheny College, an M.S. (1967) and a Ph.D. (1971) from the California Institute of Technology.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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