MIT EAPS Directory

Gaia Stucky de Quay

Gaia Stucky de Quay

Assistant Professor

Research Description

Gaia Stucky de Quay focuses on investigating topographic signals and landscape evolution in order to both deconvolve and quantify primary driving forces such as tectonics, climate, and local geological processes across various timescales and planetary surfaces, whether on Earth, Mars, or beyond. Stucky de Quay’s research is guided by several interrelated questions: What drives landscape evolution? Are fluvial systems a reliable proxy for climate? Can we use the relationships we see on Earth to decipher the ancient Mars hydroclimate? Can we go a step further and shed light on enigmatic surface processes we see on Titan or other icy moons? Stucky de Quay is always interested in finding new ways to address ongoing problems related to habitability, tectonics, and climate using novel and interdisciplinary techniques ranging from lab work (e.g.,  cosmogenic dating), to fieldwork (e.g., geomorphic mapping), to remote sensing (e.g., drone imaging), as well as theoretical studies of surface dynamics. 

At the moment, her current work features three main branches. Stucky de Quay is investigating the morphology of Martian valleys and lakes, and how these may be used to constrain the perplexing ancient climate of Mars. In particular, these open and closed paleo-basins are excellent tools for investigating the ancient inventory of water on Mars. Another avenue of interest is volcanic islands, particularly in the Atlantic Ocean. These basaltic terrains are fantastic natural labs for studying the myriad processes that shape surfaces, via river erosion, uplift, lithology, and variable climate, among others. They can help researchers like Stucky de Quay answer longstanding questions about how precipitation is linked to river incision, what role lithology plays, and how uplift from dynamic support affects these river systems. Additionally, these types of islands can be analogs for other planetary surfaces such as Mars — quantifying physical and chemical erosion in these volcanic terrains is important for understanding the role of water on other planets. Stucky de Quay is also interested in applying her expertise to understanding how the surfaces of icy moons evolve and how geomorphic features can be used to derive unknown processes, such as groundwater in Titan or internal heat flux on Enceladus.

Contact Information




Ph.D., Earth Science, Imperial College London, 2019
M.Sci., Earth Sciences – International Program (First-class), University College London, 2014