Continental rifting – that is the subject of Ph.D. student Scott Bennett’s research. He has been studying factors that promote continents, and other land masses, to tear apart. His research site, Isla Tiburon in the northern Gulf of California, is a great place to study continental rifting because it lies between Baja California and mainland Mexico, which were attached approximately six million years ago.
Once a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Bennett thought it would be nice to be closer to family and where he grew up in California. While his younger days were spent mostly in the southern region of the state, he has always enjoyed all parts of California, especially the spectacular and geologically active landscapes east of the Sierra Nevada.
When he is not researching plate tectonics, Bennett still enjoys being close to where his passion lies. He rock climbs in his spare time and also takes 20-30 mile bike rides with a group of geology graduate students.
His interest in geology stems from his camping and road trips across the western United States with his father, an anthropologist and amateur geologist. Being able to comprehend the Earth and how it works is very rewarding to Bennett. “Geology is a subject that allows you to understand how the world around you came to be and why landscapes are shaped the way they are,” he says.
For his research efforts, Bennett was awarded money from the Geology department’s Durrell Fund, named after the late professor emeritus Cordell Durrell. He also received funding from an ExxonMobil Geoscience Grant, from the Geological Society of America, and from the Northern California Geological Survey.
After Bennett receives his doctorate, he plans to continue working on understanding the amazing world we live in and sharing that knowledge with others.