William Frank

Victor P. Starr Career Development Professor of Geophysics

Contact Info:

Office Phone






Josh Kastorf 617.253.8028

Geophysicist studying the continuum of earthquake modes and fault instability within the Earth's crust.

Research Interests

My research deals with what happens when tectonic plates collide. The most obvious manifestation of tectonic motion at such plate boundaries is earthquakes, which can be major ground-shaking events or silent slip along faults and everything in between. Volcanoes are also often a result of tectonics, where the interplay between magma transport and tectonic motion control the timing of eruptions. My research group utilizes a range of geophysical observations, including seismic ground motion and remote sensing geodesy, to produce novel insights on when, where, and how these natural hazards impact the solid Earth.

Topics I investigate:

  • Tectonophysics and crustal deformation
  • Fault instability, from shallow stick-slip earthquakes to deep slow transients and steady creep slow slip
  • Volcanism

Biographic Sketch

William Frank joined the EAPS faculty in 2020. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Earth systems science from the University of Michigan in 2009, William went on to pursue a master’s (2011) and a doctoral degree (2014) in geophysics from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris. He continued his postdoctoral studies there before coming to EAPS at MIT as an National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the research group of German Prieto in 2015. Frank was then appointed assistant professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California in 2018 before ultimately returning to MIT.

Key Awards & Honors

  • 2022 • Victor P. Starr Career Development Professorship (MIT)
  • 2017 • Two Editor’s Citations for Excellence in Refereeing (Geophysical Research Letters)
  • 2016 • 2016 Editor’s Citation for Excellence in Refereeing (Geophysical Research Letters)
  • 2016 • 2016 Editor’s Citation for Excellence in Refereeing (Journal of Geophysical Research)
  • 2015 • National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

Key Publications

  • Wang QY, Frank WB, Abercrombie RE, Obara K, Kato A. What makes low-frequency earthquakes low frequency. Sci Adv. 2023 Aug 9;9(32):eadh3688. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.adh3688.

  • William B. Frank, Nikolaï M. Shapiro, Alexander A. Gusev, Progressive reactivation of the volcanic plumbing system beneath Tolbachik volcano (Kamchatka, Russia) revealed by long-period seismicity, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 493, 2018, Pages 47-56, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.04.018.

  • Frank, W. B. (2016), Slow slip hidden in the noise: The intermittence of tectonic releaseGeophys. Res. Lett.43,  10,12510,133, doi:10.1002/2016GL069537.