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Leah Sabbeth

Photo of Leah Sabbeth


4800 Oak Grove Drive Pasadena, CA 91109

Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Planetary Interiors and Geophysics


Originally from New York, Leah (she/her) completed her BS at the University of Rochester in 2013. After a year deploying seismometers in the Atlantic Ocean and on Mt. St. Helens, she moved to sunny southern California, where she received her PhD from Caltech in 2020.

During the course of her PhD, Leah pursued two main research projects. One project contributes to the rich debate over the age of the Colorado River: she employed detrital zircon ages and paleomagnetic data to investigate the provenance of far-travelled clasts in the Miocene Sespe Formation in Malibu, CA, determining that Grand Canyon was a likely source for these clasts. Leah also mapped geology on Isla Ángel de la Guarda in the Gulf of California (Mexico). She focused on understanding Miocene to recent tectonics, embodied by fault networks and volcanism on the island. Sample analyses included Ar/Ar geochronology and XRF geochemistry, and helped in determining a stratigraphy for the area, and a better understanding of the magmatic source.

In the Planetary Interiors and Geophysics group, Leah will study Venus tectonics, including plumes, subduction, and sources of active seismicity.


  • 2020 | Ph.D., Geology, Caltech
  • 2016 | M.S., Geology, Caltech
  • 2013 | B.S., Geological Sciences, University of Rochester

Professional Experience

  • 2020-present | Postdoctoral Scholar, JPL
  • 2014-2020 |Graduate Student Researcher, Caltech

Community Service

  • 2019 | Exhibitor, “Science for March”, Caltech
  • 2015–2019 | Mentor, Caltech’s Women Mentoring Women program
  • 2018 | Health Care and Insurance Representative, Caltech Graduate Student Council
  • 2018 | Geology Representative & founding member, Women in Geological and Planetary Sciences, 2018

Research Interests

  • Active rift basins
  • Initiation of plate tectonics and subduction
  • Venus seismicity
  • Structural geology and field mapping

Selected Awards

  • 2019 | Acceptance & funding for GSA Thompson Field Forum: Age and carving of Grand Canyon: Towards a resolution of 150 years of debate
  • 2018 | Candace Rypisi Outstanding Mentor Award, Women Mentoring Women, Caltech
  • 2018 | GSA Cordilleran Section Travel Grant

Selected Publications

  • Sabbeth, L., Wernicke, B., Raub, T.D., Grover, J.A., Lander, E.B., Kirschvink, J.L., 2019, Grand Canyon provenance for orthoquartzite clasts in the lower Miocene of coastal southern California: Geosphere, v. 15, p. 1973-1998.