The award is given for contributions that lead to greater appreciation and better understanding of the role of geoscience in society.
Stanford Earth's Mark Zoback will receive this year's Outstanding Contribution to the Public Understanding of the Geosciences award from the American Geosciences Institute (AGI).
The award is bestowed upon one individual or organization every year for "contributions leading to greater public appreciation and better understanding of the role of geosciences in society".
AGI president Scott Tinker commended Zoback, who is the Benjamin M. Page Professor in Earth Sciences at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, for his "outstanding contributions to rock physics and geomechanics, in particular for applying geomechanics to solve a wide range of problems of scientific, engineering and economic importance."
"It’s an honor to be recognized for educating the public about earth science issues that affect their lives both today and in the future," said Zoback, who is also a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Precourt Institute for Energy and the Director of the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative.
Zoback began his career by studying geophysics at the University of Arizona. He spent two years working as a geophysicist in the oil industry before continuing his geophysical studies at Stanford, earning a Master's degree and a Ph.D. Following his studies, he spent nine years at the U.S. Geological Survey before joining Stanford University in 1984.
His research has been key in the development of methods for the determination of in situ stresses in the Earth's crust. In his early career, he carried out the first experimental studies of the relationship between permeability and the evolution of fracture arrays in deforming rocks. Working with Mary Lou Zoback, he developed the first intraplate stress maps of the U.S. and North America which eventually led to the development of the World Stress Map Project, which shed new light on the dynamics of contemporary plate motions.
Zoback was also one of the principal investigators on the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth Project where the physics of faulting was investigated. More recently, he served on the committee that investigated the root causes for the Deepwater Horizon blowout and resulting oil spill. He also served on the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board Natural Gas Subcommittee. He also worked closely with 60 Minutes last spring on a segment explicating the complex causes of Oklahoma’s induced earthquakes.
Zoback is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and is recognized as a fellow in the American Geophysical Union, the American Rock Mechanics Association, the Geological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The Society of Exploration Geophysicists has named him an Honorary Member and he is an Honorary Fellow at the European Union of Geosciences.
An award ceremony for Zoback will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver, Colorado.