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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Recent Publications
Totaro, C., L. Seeber, F. Waldhauser, M. Steckler, A. Gervasi, I. Guerra, B. Orecchio, D. Presti, An intense earthquake swarm in the southernmost Apennines: fault architecture from high-resolution hypocenters and focal mechanisms, Bulletin Seismo. Soc. Amer., 105, 1-8, 2015. 

Allison, M., B. Yuill, T. Törnqvist, F. Amelung, T. Dixon, G. Erkens, R. Stuurman, M. Steckler, J.P.M. Syvitski, and P. Teatini. Coastal Subsidence: Global Risks and Research Priorities, EOS, 97, doi:10.1029/2016EO055013, 2016.

Knappett, P.S.K., B.J. Mailloux, I. Choudhury, M. Khan, H.A. Michael, S. Barua, D.R. Mondal, M.S. Steckler, S.H. Akhter, K.M. Ahmed, B. Bostick, C.F. Harvey, M. Shamsudduha, I. Mihajlov, R. Mozumder, A. van Geen, Vulnerability of low-arsenic aquifers to municipal pumping in Bangladesh, J. Hydrology, 539, 674-686, doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2016.05.035, 2016.

Steckler, M.S., Mondal, D., Akhter, S.H. Seeber, L., Armbruster, J. Kogan, M., L. Feng, J. Gale, E.M. Hill, M. Howe, Locked and loading megathrust linked to active subduction beneath the Indo-Burman Ranges, Nature Geoscience, 9, 615–618, doi: 10.1038/ngeo2760, 2016. 

Singh, A., K. Bhushan, C. Singh, M.S. Steckler, S.H. Akhter, L. Seeber, W.-Y. Kim, A.K. Tiwari, R. Biswas, Crustal structure and tectonics of Bangladesh: New constraints from inversion of receiver functions, Tectonophysics, 680, 99–112, doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2016.04.046, 2016.

Chamberlain, E.L., J. Wallinga, T. Reimann, S.L. Goodbred Jr, M.S. Steckler, Z. Shen, R. Sincavage (2016) Luminescence dating of delta sediments: novel approaches explored for the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta, Quaternary Geochronology, 41, 97-111, doi: 10.1016/j.quageo.2017.06.006, 2017.

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.