Peter Molnar
Distinguished Professor
Geological Sciences • CIRES

Office: Benson 462


My research addresses how mountain ranges are built and how they and other larger-scale crustal movements affect climate on geological time scales. For the first, my focus is largely on high terrain in Asia (Himalaya, Tibet, Tien Shan, etc.) but also smaller features like the Southern Alps of New Zealand. For the second, two questions motivate me: (1) how the growth of the Tibetan Plateau has affected global regional climate like the Indian monsoon, and (2) processes like the closing of the Indonesian Seaway that may have transformed an equable global climate to one with recurring ice ages ~3 million years ago.


Mountain ranges, high plateau, crustal structure, upper mantle structure, seismic anisotropy, plate tectonics, active faulting, earthquakes, GPS geodesy, Quaternary geology, geophysical fluid mechanics, Rayleigh-Taylor instability, non-Newtonian viscosity, paleoclimate, paleoceanography, stable isotopes, El Nino, ice ages, monsoons,Great American Biotic Interchange

Department Topic Areas

Education and Training

  • PhD Geology (Seismology) Columbia University 1970
  • A, B, Physics Oberlin College 1965