Dr. Samuel Howell

Postdoctoral Scholar

Europa Clipper Project Science Affiliate

JPL-Caltech

Curriculum vitae

Howell_CV (pdf)

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Current Projects

Centaur Reconnaissance

Camilla: A Centaur reconnaissance and impact mission concept 

(2018, Planetary and Space Science)


This mission concept was the result of the 2018 NASA Planetary Science Summer Seminar, for which I served as Principle Investigator, and outlines a flyby mission with impactor to visit 10199 Chariklo, a double ringed Centaur.

Europa Band Formation

Band formation and ocean-surface interaction on Europa and Ganymede 

(2018, Geophysical Research Letters)


This study explores tectonic bands on Europa, including why they look the way they do, and which ones might expose material from Europa's deep ocean at the surface.

Icy World Subduction

Can Earth-like plate tectonics occur in the outer ice shells of icy satellites? 

(2018, in review, Icarus)


This study explores whether a cycle of buoyantly-driven plate tectonics is possible on worlds with oceans hidden away by thick ice shells, like Jupiter's Europa and Ganymede, Saturn's Enceladus, or Neptune's Triton.

Oceanic Core Complex Formation

Seafloor expression of oceanic detachment faulting reflects gradients in mid-ocean ridge magma supply

(2018, in prep.)


I am exploring controls on the formation and evolution of oceanic core complexes. We are merging 2-D physical simulation with the basic physics of faulting in 1-D to learn why these important mid-ocean ridge structures look the way they look.

San Andreas Motions

The vertical fingerprint of earthquake cycle loading in Southern California 

(2016, Nature Geoscience)


We use statistic modeling of vertical GPS data near the southern San Andreas Fault System and physics-based models to identify the current pattern of uplift and subsidence due to earthquake cycle loading. This research received national attention, including a 2016 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award. 

Faults and Magmatism

Magmatic and tectonic extension at the Chile Ridge: Evidence for mantle controls on ridge segmentation

(2016, G-cubed)


Using observations of the seafloor, this study tried to quantify the relationship between tectonic and volcanic plate separation. Evidence from the Chile Ridge suggests that mantle chemistry might control tectonic faulting in the seafloor.

About

Sam Howell is a Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, CA. His research interests include planetary and terrestrial tectonics, convection, faulting, and numerical modeling. His doctoral research has received national attention, including a 2016 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, and his postdoctoral research recieved a 2017 JPL Outstanding Postdoctoral Research Award.


Sam graduated with a PhD in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in December, 2016, where he received his M.S. in Geology and Geophysics in 2013. Sam received his B.S. in Engineering Physics with a concentration in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Thermal Fluid Mechanics from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2010.


In his spare time, he has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, completed triathlons and marathons, and serendipitously met his wife, Marissa, an expert in the tectonics of icy moons.


email: 

samuel.m.howell@jpl.nasa.gov


ph:
(818) 393 - 8213

publications

Scientific Publications

Howell, S., R.T. Pappalardo (2018, in review), Can Earth-like plate tectonics occur in the outer ice shells of icy satellites? Icarus. 


Howell, S., L. Chou, 2017 NPSSS team (2018), Centaur reconnaissance mission concept: Chariklo flyby and impact, Planetary and Space Science doi:10.1016/j.pss.2018.07.008,


2017 JPL Outstanding Postdoctoral Research Award Recipient

Howell, S., R.T. Pappalardo (2018), Band formation and ocean-surface interaction on Europa and Ganymede, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2018GL077594.


Howell, S., G. Ito, M. D. Behn, F. Martinez, J.-A. Olive, and J. Escartín (2016), Magmatic and tectonic extension at the Chile Ridge: Evidence for mantle controls on ridge segmentation, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., doi:10.1002/2016GC006380


2016 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award Recipient

Howell, S., B. Smith-Konter, N. Frazier, X. Tong, D. Sandwell (2016), The vertical fingerprint of earthquake cycle loading in Southern California, Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo2741


Olive, J.-A., M. D. Behn, G. Ito, W. R. Buck, J. Escartín, S. Howell (2016), Response to Comment on “Sensitivity of seafloor bathymetry to climate-driven fluctuations in mid-ocean ridge magma supply”, Science, doi:10.1126/science.aaf2021


Olive, J.-A., M. D. Behn, G. Ito, W. R. Buck, J. Escartín, S. Howell (2015), Sensitivity of seafloor bathymetry to climate-driven fluctuations in mid-ocean ridge magma supply, Science, doi:10.1126/science.aad0715.


Howell, S., G. Ito, A.J. Breivik, A. Rai, R. Mjelde, B. Hanan, K. Sayit, P. Vogt (2014), The origin of the asymmetry in the Iceland hotspot along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from continental breakup to present-day, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2014.02.020.


Education Publications

B. Boston, S. Howell, J. Sleeper, A. Anderson, M. Cameron, T. Sigurdardottir, J. Tree, H. Togia, B. Smith-Konter, G. F. Moore, (2018), Seafloor Mapping at Your Fingertips: Setting Sail on Sonar Education with an Interactive Exhibit, The Earth Scientist, 34, 1, 11-15.


B. Boston, S. Howell, G. Moore, University of Hawaii Geophysical Society (2014), A miniature research vessel: A small-scale ocean-exploration demonstration of geophysical methods, The Leading Edge, SEG, doi:10.1190/tle33121408.1


Manuscripts in preparation

Howell, S., J-A. Olive, G. Ito. M. D. Behn, J. Escartin, B. Kaus, Seafloor expression of oceanic detachment faults reflects gradients in mid-ocean ridge magma supply, in preparation for Earth and Planetary Science Letters


Scientific Research Cruises

TN273, The tectonics, igneous activity, and mineralization of the southern Mariana Forearc, Technician aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson, 22 Dec., 2011 – 22 Jan., 2012 (Arpa Harbor, Guam)

Scientific Objective: Map the Malaguana-Gadao ridge in the southeastern Mariana forearc riftzone and other sites using deep-towed sidescan sonar, multibeam, gravimetry and magnetometry, and sample these areas with wax core and chain dredge

Contribution: Technician for the Hawaiʻi Mapping Research Group; I piloted the IMI-30 30 kHz deep-towed sidescan sonar towbody, and aided in deployment/recovery of the towbody, and set-up/tear-down of laboratory space


ARGGH2010, Aegir Ridge Geology/Geophysics and Hotspot Interaction, Shipboard Scientist aboard the R/V Haakon Mosby, 27 May – 13 June, 2010 (Bergen, Norway)

Scientific Objective: Active source OBS seismic refraction and dredging survey at the extinct Aegir Ridge in the Norway Basin to better understand hotspot-ridge interaction

Contribution: I aided in dredge deployment/recovery, operated the winch controlling the dredge, and cataloged samples