Mingming Li

Asst Professor
TEMPE Campus


Mingming Li is an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. He is a geodynamicist who uses numerical simulations to investigate the structure, dynamics and evolution of the Earth and other planets. He is particularly interested in understanding the surface expressions of deep mantle dynamics and how the Earth and other solar and extrasolar planets evolve differently.


  • Ph.D. Geodynamics, Arizona State University 2015
  • M.S. Seismology, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences 2010
  • B.S. Geophysics, Yunnan University 2007

Google Scholar

Research Interests

I use the tool of numerical modeling, in collaboration with seismologists, geochemists, petrologists and mineral physicists to investigate the nature of mantle convection, and its links to surface observations. I am also interested in understanding how other solar and extrasolar planets evolve differently than the Earth. Below is an artistic image made by myself, showing a geodynamist's fantacy about Earth's interior. I also enjoy developing methods and writting codes to apply to important, unexplored science questions.

Research Group

I am always looking for enthusiastic students and postdocs! Please feel free to send me email for opportunities.


Li, M., and S. Zhong (2017), The source location of mantle plumes from 3D spherical models of mantle convection, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 478, 47-57.

Li, M., McNamara, A.K., Garnero, E.J., Yu, S., 2017. Compositionally-distinct ultra-low velocity zones on Earth’s core-mantle boundary. Nature Communications 8, 177.

Frost, D.A., Rost, S., Garnero, E.J., and Li, M. Seismic evidence for Earth’s crusty deep mantle, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 470, 54-63.

Zhao, C. P., E. J. Garnero, M. Li, A. McNamara, and S. L. Yu (2017), Intermittent and lateral varying ULVZ structure at the northeastern margin of the Pacific LLSVP, Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth, 122(2), 1198-1220.

Li, M., Black, B., Zhong, S., Manga, M., Rudolph, M.L. and Olson, P., 2016. Quantifying melt production and degassing rate at mid-ocean ridges from global mantle convection models with plate motion history. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 17: 2884-2904.

Gu, T., Li, M., McCammon, C. and Lee, K.K.M., 2016. Redox-induced lower mantle density contrast and effect on mantle structure and primitive oxygen. Nature Geoscience, 9: 723-727.

Zhang, Z., Dorfman, S.M., Labidi, J., Zhang, S., Li, M., Manga, M., Stixrude, L., McDonough, W.F. and Williams, Q., 2016. Primordial metallic melt in the deep mantle. Geophysical Research Letters, 43(8): 3693-3699.

Li, M., 2015, Thermochemical Structure and Dynamics of Earth's Lowermost Mantle, PhD dissertation.

Williams, C.D., Li, M., McNamara, A.K., Garnero, E.J. and van Soest, M.C., 2015. Episodic entrainment of deep primordial mantle material into ocean island basalts. Nature Communnications, 6: 8937.

Li, M., McNamara, A.K. and Garnero, E.J., 2014. Chemical complexity of hotspots caused by cycling oceanic crust through mantle reservoirs. Nature Geoscience, 7(5): 366-370.

Cottaar, S., Li, M., McNamara, A.K., Romanowicz, B. and Wenk, H.-R., 2014. Synthetic seismic anisotropy models within a slab impinging on the core–mantle boundary. Geophysical Journal International, 199(1): 164-177.

Li, M. and McNamara, A.K., 2013. The difficulty for subducted oceanic crust to accumulate at the Earth's core-mantle boundary. J. Geophys. Res., 118(4): 1807-1816.

Li, M. and He, Y.M., 2011. Lithospheric structure beneath northeastern boundary region of the North China Craton from Rayleigh wave dispersion inversion. Acta Seismologica Sinica, 33(2): 143-155.

Research Activity

Starting my new position at SESE.


Spring 2018
Course Number Course Title
SES 494 Special Topics
SES 591 Seminar
SES 692 Research
SES 792 Research
SES 799 Dissertation
Fall 2017
Course Number Course Title
SES 494 Special Topics
SES 591 Seminar


2017 fall: The Dynamic Planets


Associate Editor for Geophysical Research Letters