Earth is the only planet we know of that has maintained a strong magnetic field, plate tectonics, surface liquid water, and life over billions of years. 

What is it about Earth’s interior that has allowed these complex phenomena to occur? How do they work? Are they connected in any way?

These topics are intertwined through the bulk thermal, chemical, and magnetic evolution of the planet. Peter Driscoll employs an assortment of numerical methods and models to investigate the thermal evolution of Earth’s interior, dynamics of the core, polarity reversals of Earth’s magnetic field, magnetic-limited atmospheric escape, coupled surface-interior volatile cycling, the divergence of Earth and Venus, and the internal dynamics and detectability of terrestrial exoplanets.

Driscoll uses first-principles numerical magnetohydrodynamic simulations to investigate dynamo behavior over a range of parameters and timescales. In addition, he develops 1D models of heat and mass transfer within the interior. The evolution of the deep interior is manifested in paleomagnetic and tectonic observations that require an understanding of the long-term coupling of the mantle and core. 

In particular, he is focused on how the evolution of the geodynamo over the last 500 million years is related to convective cycles in the mantle, the growth of the solid inner core, and changes in rotation. He investigates the process of magnetic polarity reversals by comparing numerical dynamo simulations to geomagnetic observations and pushes towards more realistic Earth-like dynamo simulations.

He is also investigating the dynamics of rocky exoplanets, in particular through coupling internal and orbital evolution models to make predictions for their detectability and habitability.




Recent Publications