The 2014 Stephan Mueller Medal is awarded to Claudio Faccenna in recognition of his fundamental contributions to the understanding of subduction dynamics, mantle circulation and related back-arc extension in combining elegant laboratory experiments with geological and geophysical constraints.
Claudio Faccenna is able to convincingly argue for simple geodynamic processes beyond the complexity of geological record without oversimplifying well-established facts. He combines detailed field studies, primarily in Mediterranean countries, and spatio-temporal geological and geophysical data at regional scales with laboratory and numerical models of geodynamic processes for geodynamic interpretation.
Faccenna set up a renowned experimental laboratory at the Roma Tre University and rapidly brought it to a level of international excellence. In two decades, with his team and numerous guest scientists, he performed a number of simple and insightful experiments. His outstanding contribution to the understanding of mantle dynamics beneath the Mediterranean and the way it is recorded in the crust has deeply changed our perception of past and present tectonic activity in this region and renewed our way of looking at both subduction and back-arc extension in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Faccenna also investigated new areas of geodynamic interest such as the Andes and Zagros collision zones and new methodologies like dynamic topography and the numerical modelling of mantle circulation.
Faccenna’s high-quality publications have given prominent international visibility to his research. He has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Membership of the Academia Europaea, the Galileo Galilei International Medal for Earth Sciences and the Prix Viquesnel of the French Geological Society. He also dedicates time and effort to administrative functions, including the co-ordination of both national and international research programmes, and of the PhD School of Geodynamics at the Roma Tre University. Faccenna consistently shares his curiosity, excitement and passion for geology and geodynamics with numerous students and post-doctoral workers across a broad range of fields. His significant contributions to our understanding of geodynamic processes make him a worthy recipient of the Stephan Mueller Medal.