CNRS Research Director (Directeur de Recherche CNRS)

Laboratory of Mechanics and Acoustics, CNRS/University of Aix-Marseille, France

(je suis français, vous pouvez m'écrire aussi en français)

My name is Dimitri Komatitsch, I am a CNRS Research Director (Directeur de Recherche CNRS) in the Laboratory of Mechanics and Acoustics at CNRS/University of Aix-Marseille, France.

My ORCID ID is 0000-0003-2309-8269 and my ResearcherID is E-7153-2012.

Associate editor of Geophysics and of Heliyon.

You can find my publications here.

My research interests include adjoint/inverse imaging problems based on acoustic waves in industrial, oceanic or geophysical structures, and the study of associated effects related to strong local heterogeneities and/or steep topography, as well as the numerical study of acoustic or seismic wave propagation in complex media. I also work on numerical modeling and imaging in the context of non destructive testing. I use a variational formulation of the equations of elastodynamics, and solve it in three dimensions (3-D) using the so-called spectral-element method, a high-order version of the finite-element method, which can be shown to be very accurate at low cost, and particularly well suited to an efficient implementation on parallel computers. This work is done in collaboration with Prof. Jeroen Tromp at Princeton University (USA) and Prof. Qinya Liu at Toronto University (Canada). We apply such numerical techniques to the study of wave propagation both at the scale of the Earth and in sedimentary basins, in particular in Southern California. The full source code of our software package SPECFEM is available open source from

I collaborate with Dr. Sébastien Chevrot from CNRS in Toulouse (France) on future new hybrid techniques for imaging of geological structures based on high-frequency body waves, which have the potential of drastically improving the resolution of current tomographic pictures.

I actively work with Dr. Zhinan Xie from University of Harbin (China), Roland Martin from University of Toulouse/CNRS (France) and Steven D. Gedney (University of Kentucky, USA) on optimized and stabilized unsplit Perfectly Matched Layers, called unsplit Convolutional PML (C-PML) absorbing layers, for the seismic wave equation. We have developed unsplit Convolutional PMLs for isotropic and anisotropic media (Komatitsch and Martin, 2007) using a finite-difference in the time domain (FDTD) technique based on ideas introduced by Roden and Gedney (2000) in the context of electromagnetic wave propagation. We have also applied these ideas to poroelastic media (Martin, Komatitsch and Ezziani, 2008) and developed a stabilized variational form for isotropic or strongly anisotropic media modeled using high-order finite elements (Martin, Komatitsch and Gedney, 2008). For more details about PML and C-PML, see for instance Wikipedia about PML as well as our publications. For more details about finite differences in the time domain (FDTD), see for instance Wikipedia about FDTD. All our C-PML source codes are available open source.

I also collaborate with Dominik Göddeke (University of Stuttgart, Germany) on GPU computing (i.e., computing on graphics cards) for seismic wave propagation. For more details, see our publications.

Our laboratory is affiliated with CNRS as a joint research unit (UMR 7031). Before working in Marseille, I was a Professor at University of Pau, France from 2004 to 2010, at CNRS lab UMR 5212 (Laboratory of Modeling and Imaging in Geosciences), of which I was the Director from 2007 to 2010 and Deputy Director in 2005 and 2006; and then a Professor at University of Toulouse, France, at CNRS lab UMR 5563 (Laboratory of Geosciences and Environment).

I was also a member of Institut universitaire de France (IUF) from 2007 to 2012 (non renewable).

With some colleagues, in 2005 we founded an INRIA research project-team called MAGIQUE-3D.

I collaborated with Swaminathan Krishnan from Caltech, USA, on the study of strong ground motion in Southern California, and on the three-dimensional nonlinear analysis of buildings based on his software package Frame3D.

I also worked with Christian Gout from INSA Rouen, France, on better ways of approximating surfaces with large local variations, such as topographic and bathymetric elevation models, or complex three-dimensional geological structures with faults.

I collaborated with Jesús Labarta (Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Catalunya, Spain) on optimizing high-order finite-element codes on SMP machines. We analyzed our codes using their ParaVer/DimeMás performance analysis software package.


Before working in France, I was a Senior Research Fellow in Scientific Computing and Geophysics in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech (California Institute of Technology) in Pasadena, California, USA, and in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, for five years.

I am a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and of the French Acoustical Society (SFA).

List of publications

Curriculum Vitae

SPECFEM software packages (SPECFEM2D and SPECFEM3D)

SEISMIC_CPML software package

Our CHEESE Center of Excellence European project (led by BSC in Barcelona, Nov 2018 - Oct 2021)

Our ETN WAVES European project (led by UPMC in Paris, ending in Dec 2018)

Four old and very hard-to-find texts about oceanic T waves, and two about the adjoint method for imaging and inversion

How to write a good paper title or abstract (easily!)

Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca

ShakeMovie Caltech

Global_ShakeMovie Princeton

Genealogy: my ancestors / Généalogie: mes ancêtres

Movie of the propagation of a plane shear wave in a concrete block in non-destructive testing computed with our acoustic wave propagation code SPECFEM:

Movie of seismic waves propagating in Mars following a meteoritic impact. Movie created using our code SPECFEM3D_GLOBE for the launch of the InSight Mission on May 5, 2018:

Movie of the May 12, 2008, Sichuan (China, Ms = 8.0, Mw = 7.9) earthquake computed at CINES/GENCI (Montpellier, France) with our 3D seismic wave propagation code SPECFEM:

June 2010: a multi-GPU port of SPECFEM wins the BULL Joseph Fourier supercomputing award:

May 2005: our 3D seismic wave propagation code SPECFEM on the cover of "Science", for the calculation of the great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of December 26, 2004.

November 2003: SPECFEM wins the ACM Gordon Bell Award for Best Performance at the ACM/IEEE SuperComputing'2003 conference in Phoenix, Arizona:

Read our Gordon Bell Award paper

See the Press release

The source code of SPECFEM is available open source from

Dimitri Komatitsch
Laboratoire de Mécanique et d'Acoustique (LMA)
Bureau 120
8 rue Enrico Fermi
13453 Marseille cedex 13

For visitors, here is how to reach our building. In Google Maps or in your GPS if you cannot find "Impasse Nikola Tesla" look for "Rue Enrico Fermi" instead, the lab is at the intersection of both.

email: (preferred)
(je suis français, vous pouvez m'écrire aussi en français)

Phone: (+ 33) 4 84 52 42 52 (please use email instead if possible)
Administrative assistant: Ms. Stéphanie LIEUTAUD (+ 33) 4 84 52 56 06

Dimitri Komatitsch, Last update: September 2018, © 2018, all rights reserved.