Dan Spencer


I am a PhD student at the University of Oxford, due to complete in Spring 2021

My research focusses on how planetary interiors control the surfaces we observe, and how physics and chemistry interact to control planetary environments


Spencer, D.C., R.F. Katz, I.J. Hewitt

Tidal controls on the lithospheric thickness and topography of Io from magmatic segregation and volcanism modelling. (2021) Icarus ArXiv link

Spencer, D.C., R.F. Katz, I.J. Hewitt, D.A. May, L.P. Keszthelyi

Compositional layering in Io driven by magmatic segregation and volcanism. (2020) JGR:Planets, ArXiv link

Spencer, D.C., R.F. Katz, I.J. Hewitt

Magmatic intrusions control Io’s crustal thickness. (2020) JGR:Planets, ArXiv link

Nimmo, F., D.C. Spencer, S. Kamata

Orbital Evolution, Thermal Histories, and Relaxation of the Saturnian Satellites. (2017) LPSC XLVIII

Research Interests

My research interests are in dynamic planetary processes and how they relate to planetary composition/petrology. Dynamic interior processes facilitate the elemental cycles that have fostered life on Earth. Through a thorough understanding of these processes we can better focus our search for habitable environments within the Solar System and beyond. Planetary volcanism allows the generation of an atmosphere through the out-gassing of volatile elements from the interior, but how much of the interior is processed in this way? And under what circumstances can volatiles be returned to the mantle? Extreme planetary ‘end-members’ such as Jupiter’s moon Io allow us to understand how planetary processes operate when they dominate planetary systems; by understanding processes in these extreme settings, we can begin to understand their transient impact on other, more complex bodies.


I produce numerical models using the Portable Extensible Toolkit for Scientific computation (PETSc) within C. I also produce simplified analytical or semi-analytical solutions to my full numerical models, generally in MATLAB.

All software produced in my publications is freely available on GitHub.

In my spare time I am enjoying developing my skills in Python. I have been using the Pandas and matplotlib packages to visualise and interpret Fantasy Football data. I anticipate making some of these tools freely available on GitHub in the near future.


Talk covering my thesis research, presented at the DPS 2020 virtual meeting

Selection of figures from publications