Oxford Earth Sciences are delighted to welcome Associate Professor of Seismology, Paula Koelemeijer to the department! Paula is a seismologist who uses seismic waves to understand the world around us, covering subjects ranging from the deep Earth to human and animal behaviour. Originally trained in geophysics in her native Utrecht (The Netherlands), Paula completed her PhD in Seismology at the University of Cambridge in 2014, analysing whole Earth vibrations to study our planet’s deep interior. Subsequently she held individual research fellowships at ETH Zurich and University College Oxford before being awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2018. Paula has also been awarded the 2021 Leverhulme Prize and she was the recipient of the 2018 Doornbos Memorial Prize. She now join us from Royal Holloway University of London, after having been at UCL as well.
Paula’s research has mostly focused on the Earth’s deep interior, where intriguing landscapes can be found, that reflect the complex processes at work since the formation of our planet. She studies these landscapes primarily using seismic observations of normal modes, the Earth’s free oscillations that occur after large magnitude earthquakes. These place powerful constraints on the velocity and density structure of the deep mantle, allowing seismologists to estimate the temperature and composition of the material. Paula also combines seismological observations with results from geodynamical models and insights from mineral physics to unravel the long-term evolution and inner workings of our planet.
Funded by the Royal Society, Paula will continue her deep Earth research at Oxford, while also starting a new project on seismic noise and background seismicity in London. Urban settings have become of interest to seismologists in recent years, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to a strong reduction in anthropogenic seismic noise. The project Paula will commence is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and will install seismic instruments across London with the aim to characterise dominant sources of seismic noise and locate any potential natural seismicity.
Paula is a Tutorial Fellow at Exeter College and will teach Earth Sciences students in seismology and deep Earth structure and dynamics. Paula also actively participates in public engagement events, using 3D printing to develop inclusive outreach materials.