Hans-Rudolf Wenk

Title
Professor of Geology
Department
Dept of Earth and Planetary Science
Phone
(510) 642-7431
Fax
(510) 643-9980
Research Expertise and Interest
crystallography, earth & planetary science, structural geology & rock deformation, seismic anisotropy, investigating development of preferred orientation under expreme conditions using neutron diffraction, synchrotron x-rays, & electron microscopy
Research Description

Hans-Rudolf Wenk received his Ph.D in crystallography at the University of Zurich in 1965 and joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1967. He has many research collaborations, for example with scientists at the Geophysical Laboratory in Washington DC, with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, as well as international institutions such as the Universities of Trento/Italy and Metz/France and the GeoForschungsZentrum in Potsdam/Germany.

His current research focuses on understanding anisotropy and the development of preferred orientation in a variety of materials ranging from deformed rocks to metals and bones. Most recently his focus has been on seismic anisotropy and stresses in surficial sediments, tectonically deformed rocks in the crust as well as minerals in the mantle and inner core. Investigations make use of neutron diffraction, synchrotron x-rays and electron microscopy. These experiments can be conducted at temperature-pressure-stress conditions close to those in the deep earth.

In the News

September 22, 2010

High pressure experiments reproduce mineral structures 1,800 miles deep

UC Berkeley and Yale University scientists have recreated the tremendous pressures and high temperatures deep in the Earth to resolve a long-standing puzzle: why some seismic waves travel faster than others through the boundary between the solid mantle and fluid outer core.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.
May 21, 2019
George Dvorsky
Strange glass particles found in the sand of Hiroshima beaches are believed to have been created by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, reports a new study co-authored by earth and planetary science professor Hans-Rudolf Wenk. The particles had been discovered by Mario Wannier, a retired geologist, who sought assistance from Professor Wenk and other researchers at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The team used conventional and scanning electron microscopes to learn that the glass was full of minerals that are unusual in sediment and usually seen around volcanoes and sites of meteorite impact -- in other words, sites of catastrophic destruction. They say the particles contain elements common in Hiroshima during the war -- such as rubber, stainless steel, concrete, and marble -- and would have been formed in temperatures that reached 3,330 degrees Fahrenheit, when the explosion turned ground materials to liquid and sent it into the sky, where at high elevation the particles fused into complex agglomerations. For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News. Stories on this topic have appeared in dozens of sources around the world, including the Daily Mail (UK), IFL Science, Atlas Obscura, Tech2, Geek, Tech Live News, El País (Spain), and Soha (Vietnam).
May 14, 2019
Matthew Gault
Strange glass particles found on the beaches of Hiroshima are believed to have been created by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in World War II. The particles had been discovered by Mario Wannier, a retired geologist, who says: "They are generally aerodynamic, glassy, rounded -- these particles immediately reminded me of some [rounded] particles I had seen in sediment samples from the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary." Studying the particles with a team that included campus and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers, they discovered that the glass was full of minerals that are unusual in sediment, including anorthite and mullite crystals, which are usually seen around volcanoes and sites of meteorite impact -- in other words, sites of catastrophic destruction. And many of the materials found in the glass were common in Hiroshima during the war, including rubber, stainless steel, concrete, and marble. Earth and planetary science professor Hans-Rudolf Wenk is one of the study's co-authors. For more on this, see the story at Berkeley Lab.