LE PICHON, XAVIER / Earth sciences / Researchers

International Center for Scientific Research


Earth sciences / LE PICHON, XAVIER



Professor and Chair of Geodynamics at the Collège de France, Aix en Provence, France.

Research interests

A major contributor to Plate Tectonics Theory, he was the first to develop a global model based on quantitative analysis, which has become the basis for a better understanding of the distribution of earthquakes and the large-scale reconstruction of the configuration of continents and ocean basins in the past. Since the late 1990s, geodetic methods using satellites have allowed him to shed light on interseismic deformation. By combining mathematics, geophysics, and geology, Professor Le Pichon has played a leading role in the development of marine geology in France and in many international programs.

Prizes and awards

1969 : Prix Hirn de l'Académie des Sciences
1970 : Médaille Paul Fourmarier (Bruxelles)
1971 : Fellow de la Royal Astronomical Society
1972 : Chevalier de l'ordre du Mérite National
1973 : Médaille d'argent du CNRS
1975 : Médaille de l'Océanographie Française
Fellow de l'American Geophysical Union
Médaille Richard de la Société d'encouragement pour l'Industrie Nationale
1976 : Prix des Volcans (volume FAMOUS)
Prix littéraire de l'Académie de Marine (volume FAMOUS)
1977 : Prix de l'Association française de Plongée (volume FAMOUS)
1978 : Fellow de la Geological Society of America
1980 : Membre correspondant de l'Académie des Sciences
1981 : Prix scientifique de la Fondation de France
1981 : Prix scientifique de l'Académie de Marine
1982 : Fellow de la Société Géologique de Londres
1984 : "Maurice Ewing Medal" pour la Géophysique Marine de l'American Geophysical Union
1985 : 39ème "William Smith Lecture" de la Société Géologique de Londres
1985 : Membre de l'Académie des Sciences
1985 : Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur
1987 : Prix A.G. Hunstman de l'Institut Océanographique de Bedford, Canada
1988 : Membre Fondateur de l'Academia Europaea
1987 : Médaille de l'Océanographie du Prince Albert 1er de Monaco
1989 : Docteur Honoris Causa de l'Université Dalhousie à Halifax, Canada
1990 : Prix du Japon
1990 : Officier de l'ordre du Mérite National
1991 : Médaille Wollaston, The Geological Society, Londres
1992 : Docteur Honoris Causa de l'Institut Polytechnique de Zürich, CH
1993 : Distinguished Shell Lecturer, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK
1995 : Membre de la National Academy of Sciences, USA
1998 : Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing for JGR-Solid Earth
2001 : Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Mérite
2002 : Scientifique le plus cité, ISI
Prix Balzan en géologie
2003 : Médaille Wegener de l'European Union of Geoscience.


Books :

X. LE PICHON, J. FRANCHETEAU and J. BONNIN, Plate tectonics, Elsevier, 300 p., 1973.

X. LE PICHON and G. PAUTOT, Le Fond des Océans, Que-sais-je?, Presses Universitaires de France, 128 p., 1976.

C. RIFFAUD and X. LE PICHON, Expédition FAMOUS, à 3000m sous l’Atlantique, Albin Michel, Paris, 300 p., 1976.

X. LE PICHON, Kaiko, voyage aux extrémités de la mer, Editions Odile Jacob-Le Seuil, 255p, 1986.

X. LE PICHON, Aux Racines de l’homme : de la mort à l’amour, Presses de la Renaissance , 294 p., 1997.

TANG YI JIE, X. LE PICHON, La Mort, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 154p., 1999.

Publications :


TANG YI JIE, X. LE PICHON, La Mort, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 154p, 1999.

LE PICHON, X., Science et Christianisme, dans Les Grandes Inventions du Christianisme, René Rémond, éditeur, 133-147, Bayard éditions, 1999.

CHAMOT-ROOKE, N. et LE PICHON, X., GPS determined eastward Sundaland motion with respect to Eurasia confirmed by earthquakes slip vectors at Sunda and Philippine Trenches, Earth Planetary Science Letters, 173, 439-455, 1999

C. RANGIN, X. LE PICHON, S. MAZZOTTI, M. PUBELLIER, N. CHAMOT-ROOKE, M. AURELIO, A. WALPERSDORF and R. QUEBRAL, Plate convergence measured by GPS across the Sundaland/Philippine Sea Plate deformed boundary : the Philippines and eastern Indonesia, Geophys. J. Int., 139, 296-316, 1999.

S.MAZZOTTI, P. HENRY, X. LE PICHON, T. SAGIYA, Strain partitioning in the zone of transition from Nankai subduction to Izu-Bonin collision (Central Japan) : Implications for an extensional tear within the subducting slab, Earth Planetary Science Letters, 172, 1-10, 1999.

X. LE PICHON, A.M.C. SENGOR and T. TAYMAZ, The Marmara fault and the future Istanbul earthquake, in ITU-IAHS International Conference on the Kocaeli earthquake 17 August 1999, edited by M. Karaca and D.N. Ural, 41-54, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey, 1999

N. CHAMOT-ROOKE, X. LE PICHON, C. RANGIN, P. HUCHON, M. PUBELLIER, C. VIGNY, and A. WALPERSDORF, Sundaland motion in a global reference frame detected from GEODYSSEA GPS measurements : implications for relative motions at its boundaries with the Australo-Indian plates and the south China block, Special volume of Geodyssea project, EEC, Brussels, 39-74, 1999


S. MAZZOTTI, X. LE PICHON and P. HENRY, Full interseismic locking of the Nankai and Japan-west Kurile subduction zones : an analysis of uniform elastic strain accumulation in Japan constrained by permanent GPS, J. Geophys. Res., 105, 13159-13177, 2000

HOLT W.E., CHAMOT-ROOKE N., LE PICHON X., HAINES A.J., SHEN TU, B. and REN, J. Velocity field in Asia inferred from Quaternary fault slip rates and GPS observations, Journal of Geophys. Res., 105; 19185-19210, 2000

X. LE PICHON, Quand les sciences de la Terre redémarrent, La Recherche, 331, 91-93, numéro spécial "30 ans de science et de recherche", 2000


P.HENRY, S. MAZZOTTI and X. LE PICHON, Transient deformation of Central Japan estimated by GPS. 1. Interseismic loading and subduction kinematics, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett, 184, 443-453,. 2001

S.MAZZOTTI, P. HENRY and X. LE PICHON, Transient and permanent deformation of Central Japan estimated by GPS. 2. Strain partitioning and arc-arc collision, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett.. 184, 455-469, 2001.

X. LE PICHON, La Tectonique des Plaques de l’océan à l’espace, in Qu’est-ce que l’Univers?, 4, Editions Odile Jacob,397-404, 2001

X. LE PICHON, My conversion to Plate Tectonics, in Plate Tectonics, an Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth, N. Oreskes, editor, Westview Press, Cambridge, Mass., 201-226, 2001.

IMREN, C., LE PICHON, X., RANGIN, C., DEMIRBAG, E., ECEVITOGLU, B. and GORUR, N., The North Anatolian Fault within the Sea of Marmara: a new interpretation based on multi-channel seismic and multi-beam bathymetry data: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 186, 143-158, 2001

MICHEL, G.W., YU, Y.Q., ZHU, S.Y., REIGBER, C., BECKER, M., REINHART, E., SIMONS, W., AMBROSIUS, B., VIGNY, C., CHAMOT-ROOKE, N., LE PICHON, X., MORGAN, P., MALTHEUSSEN, S., Crustal motion and block behaviour in SE-Asia from GPS measurements, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 187, 239-244, 2001

LE PICHON, X., SENGOR, A.M.C., DEMIRBAG, E., RANGIN, C., IMREN, C., ARMIJO, R., GORUR, N., CAGATAY, N., MERCIER DE LEPINAY, B., MEYER, B., SAATCILAR, R., TOK, B., The active main Marmara fault, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 192, 595-616, 2001

LE PICHON, X., La souffrance et la mort en héritage, in Origine de l’homme, réalité, mythe, mode, ed: Yves Coppens, Collège de France, 227-240, 2001

LOEVENBRUCK, A. , CATTIN, R., LE PICHON, X., COURTY, M.-L. and YU, S.-B. - Seismic cycle in Taiwan derived from GPS measurements, Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences, Serie II. A333 : 57-64, 2001


SIBUET, J.C., HSU, S.K., LE PICHON, X., LE FORMAL, J.P., REED, D., MOORE, G. and LIU, C.S., East Asia plate tectonics since 15 Ma : constraints from the Taiwan region, Tectonophysics, 344, 103-134, 2002.

LE PICHON, X., LALLEMANT, S.J., CHAMOT-ROOKE, N., LEMEUR, D. and PASCAL, G., The Mediterranean Ridge backstop and the Hellenic nappes, Marine Geology, 186, 111-125, 2002

MAZZOTTI, S., P. HENRY, X. LE PICHON, H. TOKUYAMA, And N. TAKASHI, Lithospheric scale tectonics of the eastern Nankai subduction : intraplate shortening and underthrusting of a large basement ridge, Marine Geology, 187, 63-88, 2002


DEMIRBAG, E., C. RANGIN, X.LE PICHON, and A.M. SENGOR, Investigation of the tectonics of the Main Marmara Fault by means of deep-towed seismic data, Tectonophysics, 361, 1-19, 2003

GOFFE,B., R. BOUSQUET, P. HENRY ET X. LE PICHON, Effect of chemical composition of the crust on the metamorphic evolution of orogenic wedges, Journal of Metamorphic Petrology, 21, 123-141, 2003.

LE PICHON, X., N. CHAMOT-ROOKE, C. RANGIN, and A.M.C. SENGOR, The North Anatolian Fault in the Sea of Marmara, J. Geophys. Res., 108, B4, 2179, doi:101029/2002JB001862, 2003.


RANGIN, C., LE PICHON, X., DEMIRBAG, E., and C. IMREN, Strain localisation in the Sea of Marmara: fast propagation of the North Anatolian Fault in a now inactive pull-apart, Tectonics, 23(2), TC2014 - DOI :10.1029/2002TC001437, 2004

KREEMER, C., CHAMOT-ROOKE, N., and LE PICHON, X., Constraints on the evolution and vertical coherency of deformation in the Northern Aegean from a comparison of geodetic, geologic, and seismologic data, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 225,329-346, 2004.

LOEVENBRUCK, A., CATTIN, R., LE PICHON, X; DOMINGUEZ,S.; and MICHEL, R.: Co-seismic slip resolution and post-seismic relaxation time of the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake as constrained by geological observations, geodetic measurements and seismicity, Geophys. J. Int., 158, 310-326, 2004


SENGOR, A.M.C., TUYSUZ, O., IMREN, C., SAKINC,M., EYIDOGAN, H., GORUR, N., LE PICHON, X. and RANGIN, C., The North Anatolian Fault, a new look, Earth Science Reviews, Volume 33, 2005 (doi:10.1146/annurev.earth.32.101802.120415).

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