Michael S. Steckler

I am a geophysicist who works mainly on sedimentary systems with projects related both to tectonics and earthquakes, and to sea level and stratigraphy. A particular interest is vertical motions of the Earth’s surface and their preservation in the sedimentary record. My main field area is currently Bangladesh where I work both on the heavily-sedimented IndoBurma subduction zone (IBSZ), including the earthquake hazard, and on deltaic processes in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta (GBD), including sea level rise, land subsidence, sedimentation and river avulsions. I have worked in Bangladesh, and adjacent parts of India and Myanmar, for 20 years, taking part in and leading a number of field campaigns. I am also currently working on tectonics in Western Turkey, and on fresh and salty groundwater in both Bangladesh and offshore New Jersey.

Fields of Interest

Sedimentary basin formation and development, sea level change and its preservation in the stratigraphic record, tectonic uplift and subsidence of earth's surface, tectonics of extension, lithospheric flexure and isostasy, thermal history of rifts and basin, stratigraphic record of global change at continental margins, natural hazards of sea level rise and coastal subsidence, subduction tectonics and earthquake hazard.


  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. Earth and Planetary Sciences, B.S., 1976
  • Columbia University, New York, NY Marine Geophysics, M.A., 1978; M. Phil., 1979; Ph.D. 1981. The Thermal and Mechanical Evolution of Atlantic-type Continental Margins. 
  • University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK: Post-doctoral Fellow, Geophysics, 1981-1982.

Honors & Awards

  • 1988 Arthur D. Storke Research Fellowship, Dept. of Geological Sciences, Columbia University
  • 1980 A.I. Levorsen Award (best paper, A.A.P.G. Eastern Section)
  • 1976 Sigma Xi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Most Cited Papers (>300 citations)

Steckler, M.S., and A.B. Watts, Subsidence of the Atlantic-type Continental Margin off New York, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 41, 1-13, 1978.

van Geen, A., Y. Zheng, R. Versteeg, M. Stute, A. Horneman, R. Dhar, M. Steckler, A. Gelman, C. Small, H. Ahsan, J. Graziano, I. Hussein, and K. M. Ahmed. Spatial Variability of Arsenic in 6000 Contiguous Tube Wells of Araihazar, Bangladesh, Water Resources Res. 39, 1140, 2003.

Watts, A.B., G.D. Karner, and M.S. Steckler, Lithospheric Flexure and the evolution of sedimentary basins, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London  A, 305, 249-281, 1982.Bodine, J.H., M.S. Steckler and A.B. Watts, Observations of Flexure and the Rheology of the Oceanic Lithosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 86, 3695-3707, 1981.

Bodine, J.H., M.S. Steckler and A.B. Watts, Observations of Flexure and the Rheology of the Oceanic Lithosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 86, 3695-3707, 198

Buck, W.R., F. Martinez, M.S. Steckler and J.R. Cochran, Thermal consequences of extension: pure and simple, Tectonics, 7, 213-234, 1988.

Watts, A.B. and M.S. Steckler, Subsidence and Eustasy at the Continental Margin of Eastern North America, Maurice Ewing Series, 3, 218-234, 1979.

Watts, A.B., J.H. Bodine and M.S. Steckler, Observations of Flexure and the State of Stress in the Oceanic Lithosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 85, 6369-6376, 1980.

Auerbach, L., Goodbred, S., Mondal, D., Wilson, C., Ahmed, K.R., Roy, K., Steckler, M., Gilligan, J., Ackerly, B. In the Balance: Natural v. Embanked Landscapes in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Tidal Delta Plain, Nature Climate Change. 5, 153-157, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2472, 2015.

Recent Publications

Steckler, M.S., Stein, S., S.H. Akhter, L. Seeber, The wicked problem of earthquake hazard in developing countries, EOS, 99, doi: 10.1029/2018EO093625, 2018.

Grall, C., M.S. Steckler, J.L. Pickering, S. Goodbred, R. Sincavage, C. Paola, S.H Akhter, V. Spiess. A base-level stratigraphic approach to determining Holocene subsidence of the Ganges–Meghna–Brahmaputra Delta plain. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 499, 23–36, 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.07.008, 2018.

Mondal, D., C.M. McHugh, R.M. Mortlock, M.S. Steckler, S. Mustaque, Microatolls document the 1762 and prior earthquakes along the southeast coast of Bangladesh, Tectonophysics, 745, 196–213, 10.1016/j.tecto.2018.07.020, 2018.

Betka, P.M., L. Seeber, S. Thomson, M.S. Steckler, R. Sincavage, C. Zoramthara, Slip partitioning above a shallow, weak décollement beneath the Indo-Burman accretionary prism, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 503, 17–28, 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.09.003, 2018. 

Grimaud, J.-L., C. Grall, S. Goodbred, M.S. Steckler, R. Sincavage, C. Paola, J.L. Pickering, N. Seeber, M. S. Hossain,. Late Quaternary sediment partitioning related to deep structure in the Garo-Rajmahal Gap, northwest Bengal Basin, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 32, 1242–1260. https://doi.org/10.1111/bre.12425, 2020.

Chamberlain, E.L., S.L. Goodbred, R. Hale, M.S. Steckler, J. Wallinga, C. Wilson, Integrating geochronologic and instrumental approaches across the Bengal Basin, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 45, 56-74., https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4687, 2020.

Sincavage,R., P.M. Betka, S.N. Thomson, L. Seeber, M.S. Steckler, C. Zoramthara, Neogene shallow marine and fluvial sediment dispersal, burial, and exhumation in the ancestral Brahmaputra delta: Indo-Burman Ranges, India, Journal of Sedimentary Research, 90, 1–20, doi: 10.2110/jsr.2020.60, 2020.

Betka, P.M, S.N. Thomson, R. Sincavage, C. Zoramthara, C. Lalremruatfela, K.A. Lang, M.S. Steckler, D. Bezbaruah, P. Borgohain, L. Seeber, Provenance Shifts During Neogene Brahmaputra Delta Progradation Tied to Coupled Climate and Tectonic Change in the Eastern Himalaya, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 22, e2021GC010026. doi: 10.1029/2021GC010026, 2021.

Steckler, M.S., B. Oryan, C.A. Wilsan, C. Grall, S.L. Nooner, D.R. Mondal, S.H. Akhter, S. DeWolf, S.L. Goodbred, Synthesis of the Distribution of Subsidence of the Lower Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, Bangladesh, Earth-Science Reviews, 224, 103887, doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2021.103887, 2022.

Okay Gunaydin, S., C.C. Sorlien, M.-H. Cormier, B. Barın, L. Seeber, M.S. Steckler, G. Çifci, D. Dondurur, H. Kurt, H.M. Küçük, O. Atgın, Ö. Özel, Post-500 ka and Holocene Activity on Distributed Faults of the North Anatolian Fault System Along the Southern Shelf of Marmara Sea, Turkey, Tectonophysics, 840, 229547, doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2022.229547, 2022.

Zumberge, M.A., S. Xie, F.K. Wyatt, M.S. Steckler, G. Li, W. Hatfield, D. Elliott, T.H. Dixon, J.G. Bridgeman, E.L. Chamberlain, M. Allison , T.E. Törnqvist, Novel Integration of Geodetic and Geologic Methods for High-Resolution Monitoring of Subsidence in the Mississippi Delta, Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, 127, e2022JF006718, doi: 10.1029/.2022JF006718, 2022.