David E. James
Staff Scientist Emeritus

David James

Research Interests

Seismology; tectonophysics


B.S., M.S., Ph.D. Geophysics, Stanford University, 1962, 1963, 1967

Contact & Links

  • (615) 864-8902
  • djames at carnegiescience.edu
  • Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
    Carnegie Institution of Washington
    5241 Broad Branch Road, NW
    Washington, DC 20015-1305
  • curriculum vitae


Farewell to an Era: David James

David James has been associated with DTM since 1961, when, after his junior year at Stanford, he spent the summer at DTM as a "student trainee in geophysics" and took part in a DTM-sponsored seismic field expedition in Maine.In 1965 he came to Carnegie on an NSF Fellowship that was later followed by a Carnegie Fellowship. In 1967 he was designated a DTM Staff Associate, and in 1970, a Staff Member.

A geophysicist who uses both geophysics and geochemistry to study the structure, formation, and evolution of the continents, James' research topics have included the Southern Africa Seismic Experiment, known as the Kaapvaal Project, the Brazil Lithosphere Seismic Project (BLSP), and the Venezuela Seismic Experiment (SECaSA92). Much of his early work was dedicated to the study of subduction zones. He produced the first three-dimensional seismic image of crustal structure beneath the central Andes, and in the early 1970s, published the first comprehensive plate tectonic model for the evolution of the area that synthesized seismic, gravitational, geochemical, and geological data.

James was a leader in promoting the development of portable broadband array instrumentation, and editor of the 1989 Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics. His research continued with his investigation of the origin of the continental lithosphere and how processes of continental formation and growth have changed over time. The High Lava Plains Project with colleague Rick Carlson and others helped determine how a large and entirely new block of continental lithosphere was created in central and eastern Oregon over the past 20 million years.