27 February 2017

Arwen Deuss appointed Professor of Structure and composition of Earth’s deep interior

Arwen Deuss UU

From 1 February 2017, Prof. Arwen Deuss takes up the post of Professor of Structure and composition of Earth’s deep interior. She conducts innovative and pioneering earth sciences research from unique approaches.


Deuss knows all about what is going on deep in the earth beneath our feet. “I primarily focus on seismology and documenting the earth from the upper mantle to the inner core,” she explained. “I want to clarify the internal structure and dynamic of our planet.”


To understand how the earth is constructed, Arwen Deuss utilises earthquakes to document the composition of the planet through the tremors. Because the earth is not a homogeneous mass, the tremors become deformed. These deviations allow Deuss to visualise the inside of the earth. It can be compared to a musical instrument. “A homogeneous earth would ring with a pure tone,” she said. “But because its composition varies, there is deformation, and the earth sounds a bit like a false note.” These deviations allow Deuss to visualise the inside of the earth. Arwen Deuss’ research is a promising advance in linking seismology with other disciplines to obtain an understanding of the earth’s composition and evolution.

Growing interest

In the past few years, society and the media have expressed a growing interest in the earth’s composition. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis are all indirect consequences of processes going on deep inside the earth. Deuss is keen to contribute to our understanding of our planet. Last year she gave a series of lectures at the University of the Netherlands, and she was on stage at the Netherlands harp festival where she illustrated the effect of tremors with the help of a harpist.  “I really love being able to explain my research to people in a way they can understand,” added Deuss. “I am so pleased when people approach me to say that they now understand much better how the earth is constructed.”

Inaugural address

Prof. Arwen Deuss will give an inaugural address in the University Hall (Academiegebouw). The date will be announced later.


Photo: Ed van Rijswijk