Marine EM Lab at Scripps IGPP Scripps Scripps Pier Cam



Kerry Key
Associate Professor
Marine EM Laboratory
Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Univeristy of California San Diego

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Scripps Scholars
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Research Interests

Marine magnetotelluric and controlled-source EM exploration, electromagnetic modeling with finite elements, electromagnetic inversion, mid-ocean ridges, subduction zones, hydrocarbon exploration, mantle dynamics, marine geophysical instrumentation design.


Ph. D., Geophysics University of California, San Diego 2003
B.S., Earth Science University of California, San Diego 1998

Ph.D. Thesis
Ph.D. Thesis Advisor: Steven Constable

Professional Experience

Associate Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD 2013-present
Associate Researcher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD 2012-2013
Visiting Scientist, Institute de Physique du Globe de Paris 2009
Assistant Researcher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD 2008-2012
Postdoctoral Researcher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD 2004-2008


Green Foundation Career Development Award 2012
Geophysics Outstanding Reviewer 2011
Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics Young Fellow Award 2004
Second Annual SIO Visualization Contest, 1st Place 2003
SEG Foundation Conoco Scholarship 2000, 2001
Gerald W. Hohmann Memorial Scholarship 1998, 1999

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union, Society of Exploration Geophysicists

External Professional Activities

Technical committee member, 3DEM-5 meeting, Sapporo Japan 2013
Session Convener, AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco 2005, 2010, 2012
Session Chair, SEG Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas 2007, 2012
Session Convener, IUGG General Assembly, Perugia, Italy 2007
Associate Editor, Geophysics 2006-2009, 2013-present

Teaching Experience

Instructor, SIO182: Environmental and Exploration Geophysics 2013
Instructor, ESYS102: The Solid and Fluid Earth 2013
Guest lecturer, SIO182A: Environmental and Exploration Geophysics 2012
Co-Instructor, SEG Continuing Education Course: Marine Electromagnetic Methods for Hydrocarbon Exploration 2006-2011
Guest lecturer, SIO231: Electrical Methods in Geophysics 2007
Teaching Assistant, History of the Earth and Evolution, Earth Sci. 12 1998, 1999

Graduate Student Advising

Yuxiang Zhang advisor PhD, expected 2016
Nate O’Flaherty advisor Masters, 2013
Anandaroop Ray advisor PhD, expected 2014
Samer Naif advisor PhD, expected 2014
Lindsay Smith committee member PhD, 2013, now at ESG Solutions
Vanessa Brown Scripps advisor visiting from IPGP, PhD, 2012, now at Chevron
Brent Wheelock co-advisor PhD, 2012, now at ExxonMobil
David Myer co-advisor PhD, 2012, now at BlueGreen Geophysics
Dylan Connell advisor Masters, 2011, now at Newmont Mining
Tetsuo Matsuno research advisor visiting post-doc, Aug/Sept 2010

Webmaster Marine EM Lab website webmaster

Safety Certifications

OPITO BOSIET Valid through September 2016


Refereed Publications (click on the titles to download the PDF)

31. Ray, A., D. Alumbaugh, G.M. Hoversten and K. Key, 2013, Robust and accelerated Bayesian inversion of marine controlled-source electromagnetic data using parallel tempering, Geophysics, 78(6), E271–E280. doi: 10.1190/geo2013-0128.1
30. Myer, D., S. Constable and K. Key, 2013, Magnetotelluric evidence for layered mafic intrusions beneath the Vøring and Exmouth rifted margins, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 220, 1-10.
29. Naif, S., K. Key, S. Constable, and R. Evans, 2013, Melt-rich channel observed at the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary, Nature, 495, 356-359.
28. Key, K., S. Constable, L. Liu, and A. Pommier, 2013, Electrical image of passive mantle upwelling beneath the northern East Pacific Rise, Nature, 495, 499-502.
27. Pommier, A., R.L. Evans, K. Key, J.A. Tyburczy, S. Mackwell and J. Elsenbeck, 2013, Prediction of silicate melts viscosity from electrical conductivity: A model and its geophysical implications, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 14, 1685–1692, doi:10.1002/ggge.20103.
26. Ray, A. and K. Key, 2012, Bayesian inversion of marine CSEM data with a trans-dimensional self parametrizing algorithm, Geophysical Journal International, 191, 1135–1151.
25. Key, K., S. Constable, T. Matsuno, R. Evans and D. Myer, 2012, Electromagnetic detection of plate hydration due to bending faults at the Middle America Trench, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 351–352, 45–53.
24. Chen, J., G. Hoversten, K. Key, G. Nordquist, and W. Cumming, 2012, Stochastic inversion of magnetotelluric data using sharp boundary parameterization and application to a geothermal site, Geophysics, 77(4), E265-E279, doi:10.1190/GEO2011-0430.1.
23. Myer, D., S. Constable, K. Key, M. Glinsky and G. Liu, 2012, Marine CSEM of the Scarborough gas field, Part 1: Experimental design and data uncertainty, Geophysics, 77(4), E281-E299, doi:10.1190/GEO2011-0380.1.
22. Key, K., 2012, Is the fast Hankel transform faster than quadrature?, Geophysics, 77(3), F21–F30, doi:10.1190/geo2011-0237.1.

*** The MATLAB codes from this paper are freely available at the SEG software library:
21. Selway, K., S. Thiel, and K. Key, 2012, A simple 2-D explanation for negative phases in TE magnetotelluric data, Geophysical Journal International, 188, 945–958, doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2011.05312.x.
20. Brown, V., M. Hoversten, K. Key, and J. Chen, 2012, Resolution of reservoir scale electrical anisotropy from marine CSEM data, Geophysics, 77(2), E147–E158, doi:10.1190/geo2011-0159.1.
18. Shahin, A., K. Key, P.L. Stoffa and R.H. Tatham, 2012, Petro-electric modeling for CSEM reservoir characterization and monitoring, Geophysics, 77(1), E9–E20, doi:10.1190/geo2010-0329.1.
17. Brown, V., K. Key and S. Singh, 2012, Seismically regularized controlled-source electromagnetic inversion, Geophysics, 77(1), E57-E65.
16. Key, K., 2012, Marine electromagnetic studies of seafloor resources and tectonics, Surveys in Geophysics, 33(1), 135–167, doi:10.1007/s10712-011-9139-x.
15. Key, K., and J. Ovall, 2011, A parallel goal-oriented adaptive finite element method for 2.5-D electromagnetic modelling, Geophysical Journal International, 186(1), 137–154, doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2011.05025.x.
14. Key, K. and S. Constable, 2011, Coast effect distortion of marine magnetotelluric data: Insights from a pilot study offshore northeastern Japan, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 184, 194–207.
13. Myer, D., S. Constable, and K. Key, 2011, Broad-band waveforms and robust processing for marine CSEM surveys, Geophysical Journal International, 184, 689-698.
12. Zhdanov, M.S., L. Wan, A. Gribenko, M. Cuma, K. Key, and S. Constable, 2011, Large-scale 3D inversion of marine magnetotelluric data: Case study from the Gemini Prospect, Gulf of Mexico, Geophysics, 76, F77-F87.
10. Key, K., 2009, 1D inversion of multicomponent, multifrequency marine CSEM data: Methodology and synthetic studies for resolving thin resistive layers, Geophysics, 74, F9–F20.

*** The Occam1DCSEM source code I wrote for this paper is publicly available here***

9. Orange, A., K. Key, and S. Constable, 2009, The feasibility of reservoir monitoring using time-lapse marine CSEM, Geophysics, 74, F21–F29.
8. Constable, S., K. Key and L. Lewis, 2009, Mapping offshore sedimentary structure using electromagnetic methods and terrain effects in marine magnetotelluric data, Geophysical Journal International, 176, 431–442.
6. Key, K. and C. Weiss, 2006, Adaptive finite element modeling using unstructured grids: the 2D magnetotelluric example, Geophysics, 71, G291–G299.
5. Key, K. W., S. C. Constable, and C. J. Weiss, 2006, Mapping 3D salt using the 2D marine magnetotelluric method: Case study from Gemini Prospect, Gulf of Mexico, Geophysics, 71, B17–B27.
4. Weitemeyer, K., S. Constable, K. Key, and J. Behrens, 2006, First results from a marine controlled-source electromagnetic survey to detect gas hydrates offshore Oregon, Geophysical Research Letters, 33.
3. Evans, R. L., S. C. Webb, W. Crawford, C. Golden, K. Key, L. Lewis, H. Miyano, E. Roosen, and D. Doherty, 2002, Crustal resistivity structure at 9N on the East Pacific Rise; results of an electromagnetic survey, Geophysical Research Letters., 29, 6–1 to 6–4.
2. Key, K. and S. Constable, 2002, Broadband marine MT exploration of the East Pacific Rise at 950’N, Geophysical Research Letters, 29, 11–1 to 11–4.
1. Heinson, G., A. White, S. Constable, and K. Key, 1999, Marine self-potential exploration, Exploration Geophysics, 30, 1-4.


Unrefereed Publications

Myer, D., S. Constable, and K. Key, 2010, A marine EM survey of the Scarborough gas field, Northwest shelf of Australia: First Break, 28, 77–82.
Weitemeyer, K., S. Constable and K. Key, 2006, Marine EM techniques for gas-hydrate detection and hazard mitigation, The Leading Edge; May 2006; v. 25; no. 5; p. 629-632; DOI: 10.1190/1.2202668.
Key, K., S. Constable, J. Behrens, G. Heinson, and C. Weiss, 2005, Mapping the northern EPR magmatic system using marine EM, Ridge 2000 Events, 3, 35–37.


Selected Abstracts

Key, K., Marine electromagnetic studies of seafloor resources and tectonics,  invited review paper at the 20th Workshop on Electromagnetic Induction in Earth, Giza, Egypt, 2010.
Goto, N., K.  Key, S. Constable, H. Mikada, and K. Suyehiro, Marine magnetotelluric investigation of the subduction zone offshore Sanriku, Japan,  18th Workshop on Electromagnetic Induction in Earth, El Vendrell, Spain, 2006.
Key, K., and S. Constable, Mantle Upwelling Beneath the East Pacific Rise at 9º 30’N, Eos Trans., AGU, 2006.
Key, K., Y. Li and C. Weiss, Adaptive finite element modeling for 2D electromagnetic problems using unstructured grids, MARELEC Conference, Amsterdam, 2006.
Key, K., Joint interpretation through combined visualization of marine electromagnetic and seismic data,  Proceedings of the Offshore Technology Conference, 2005.
Key, K., Marine MT: strengths, limitations, future directions, invited, SEG Marine Controlled-Source EM Forum, Ucross, Wyoming, 2005.
Key, K., and S. Constable, Broadband marine magnetotelluric exploration of the crust at a petroleum prospect and a mid-ocean ridge, invited, EGU-1st General Assembly, Nice, France, 2004.
Key, K., S. Constable, and C. Weiss, Mapping 3D salt with 2D marine MT: Case study from Gemini Prospect, Gulf of Mexico, 3DEM-III Workshop, Adelaide, Australia, 2003.


Research Cruises

Cruise Vessel Date
MT at Gemini & Mahogany Prospects, Gulf of Mexico R/V Pelican 06/1997
Self-potential (SPOTI) tows offshore San Onofre, California R/V Melville 10/1997
SWELL: MT and OBS recovery, offshore Hawaii R/V Moana Wave 12/1997
SWAGGIE: MT and SP offshore Eyre Peninsula, Australia R/V Franklin 04/1998
MT at Gemini Prospect, Gulf of Mexico R/V Pelican 07/1998
L-Cheapo hydrophone recovery, Kauai 30 ft fishing boat 02/1999
MT, MMR, compliance at East Pacific Rise, 9°50’ N R/V Melville 02/2000
MT deployments (to 5.5 km depth) offshore Sanriku, Japan R/V Kaiyo 06/2000
MT recoveries offshore Sanriku, Japan R/V Kaiyo 06/2000
1st CSEM for oil exploration, offshore Angola with STATOIL RRS Charles Darwin 10/2000
MT comparison with EMI instruments, San Diego R/V Sproul 01/2001
APPLE: MT and CSEM, 1000 km west of San Diego R/V Thompson 02/2001
MT at Gemini Prospect, Gulf of Mexico R/V Longhorn 03/2001
ISL Inc., deployments offshore San Diego Acoustic Explorer 06/2001
APPLE: long period MT recovery, 1000 km west of San Diego R/V New Horizon 08/2001
APPLE3: MT on continental shelf, offshore San Diego R/V Sproul 10/2001
GERD RWMC: shallow water MT, offshore San Diego R/V Sproul 03/2002
SUESI transmitter and antenna test, offshore San Diego R/V Sproul 07/2002
Instrument recovery, San Diego, Chief Scientist R/V Sproul 12/2002
CSEM and more MT at Gemini Prospect, Gulf of Mexico R/V Gyre 01/2003
East Pacific Rise 9° N, 69 MT and CSEM sites R/V Revelle 02/2004
Hydrate Ridge, offshore Oregon, 25 CSEM and MT sites R/V New Horizon 08/2004
San Diego Trough, SUESI endurance test R/V New Horizon 09/2004
San Diego, NSF ship inspection, shallow EM and CSMT R/V New Horizon 11/2004
Transmitter test, San Diego R/V Revelle 08/2005
Catalina Crater MT and CSMT, San Diego Trough CSEM R/V New Horizon 05/2006
Loihi Seamount EM tomography, Hawaii R/V Revelle 07/2006
EM receiver recovery, San Diego Trough, Coronado Bank R/V Sproul 01/2007
Vulcan and Barracuda tests with SUESI, San Diego Trough R/V New Horizon 05/2007
Instrument test in the San Diego Trough R/V Sproul 04/2008
Offshore Morro Bay MT/EM Deployment and CSEM tows R/V New Horizon 11/2008
Offshore Morro Bay MT/EM Receiver Recovery R/V Sproul 01/2009
Scarborough Gas Field Survey (144 Rx, 320 km CSEM tows) R/V Revelle 05/2009
SERPENT CSEM, MT, LEMS & Vulcan, Chief Scientist R/V Meville 04/2010
San Nicolas Basin hydrate survey with towed array CSEM R/V New Horizon 05/2013




Last modified: October 17 2013 23:07.