Michelle Kominz

Photo of Michelle Kominz
Michelle Kominz
Professor, Basin analysis
(269) 387-5340
(269) 387-5513
1133 Rood Hall, Mail Stop 5241
Mailing address: 
Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5241 USA
  • Ph.D., Geology, Columbia University, 1986
  • M.S., Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, 1978
  • B.S., Mathematics, Colby College, 1975
Research interests: 
  • Ocean lithosphere
  • Climatic implications
  • Stretched continental lithosphere

Dr. Michelle Kominz is professor of geophysics and basin dynamics in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Western Michigan University. Kominz won a 2018 College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Advising Excellence Award.


Kominz’ research is in the field of geodynamics; her current research activities center around two main issues: global sea-level change (eustasy) and tectonics. She is actively engaged in geodynamic modeling to determine Cretaceous to recent sea-level change in the coastal plain and shelf of New Jersey and in the Wanganui basin in the North Island of New Zealand. A research project addressing the same issue has evolved into a tectonic project in the Canterbury basin off the coast of the South Island of New Zealand; PhD candidate Katie Dvorak is working on this project. An additional project focused on Miocene to recent tectonics of the Northwest Shelf of Australia is also underway. Much of this work is associated with IODP (International Ocean Discovery Program) and she has served as a physical properties specialist on two expeditions. Michelle has also done considerable research on Milankovitch-scale climate variations in cyclic sediments from the Pleistocene through Cambrian in age.

Recent publications

  • 2012 Wilson, G.S., Levy, R.H., Naish, T.R., Powell, R.D., Florindo, F., et al., Neogene tectonic and climatic evolution of the western Ross Sea, Antarctica; chronology of events from the AND-1B drill hole, Global and Planetary Change, (November 2012): 189-203.
  • 2012 Miller, K.G., Wright, J.D. Browning, J.D., Kulpecz, A., Kominz, M., Naish T.R., Cramer, B.S., Rosenthal, Y., Peltier, W.R., Sosdian S., High tide of the warm Pliocene: Implications of global sea level for Antarctic deglaciation, Geology, v. 40, p. 407-410.
  • 2011 Kominz, M.A., Patterson, K., and Odette, D., Lithology dependence of porosity in slope and deep marine sediments, Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 81, p. 730–742.
  • 2010 Kirschner, Joshua P., Kominz, Michelle A., and Mwakanyamale, K. Quantifying Extension of Passive Margins: Implications for Sea Level Change, Tectonics, v. 29, 13pp. doi:10.1029/2009TC002557
  • 2008 Kominz, M.A., James V. Browning, Kenneth G. Miller, Peter J. Sugarman, Svetlana Misintzeva, and, Christopher R. Scotese, Late Cretaceous to Miocene Sea-Level Estimates from the New Jersey and Delaware Coastal Plain Core holes: An Error Analysis, Basin Research, v. 20, p 211-226.