Barry Parsons

Barry Parsons

Professor of Geodesy and Geophysics
Tel: +44 (1865) 272017
Fax: +44 (1865) 272072

Research Profile

Geodesy is concerned with the measurement of position and movement of points on the earth’s surface. Its geophysical applications provide insights into many of the processes central to the earth and environmental sciences. Variations in the height of the ocean surface reflects variations in the earth’s gravity field caused by thermally driven motion in the solid mantle, the mechanism that is the basic driving mechanisms for the motion of the plates. Measurements of position and changes in position made with the Global Positioning System (GPS) shows the patterns of deformation associated with the movement of the continents and mountain building, and help identify the forces causing them. A technique called interferometry that uses satellite radar observations can reveal what happens at depth on fault planes during earthquakes.

Over the past six years, much of my research was carried out with colleagues and students in the Centre for the Observation and Modelling for Earthquakes and Tectonics (COMET), of which I was the director. This is an Earth Observation Centre of Excellence supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) that links scientists at several earth sciences and geomatic engineering departments. COMET has recently evolved into one of the science themes supported by the new National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), that on the Dynamic Earth and Geohazards. This science theme concerns the science of volcanoes and other geohazards as well as that of earthquakes.

  • Elliott, JR, Biggs, J, Parsons, B, Wright, TJ, (2008) ‘InSAR slip rate determination on the Altyn Tagh Fault, northern Tibet, in the presence of topographically correlated atmospheric delays’, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS. pp. doi: 10.1029/2008GL033659
  • Funning, GJ, Parsons, B, Wright, TJ, (2007) ‘Fault slip in the 1997 Manyi, Tibet earthquake from linear elastic modelling of InSAR displacements’, GEOPHYSICAL JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL. pp. 988-1008 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2006.03318.x
  • Ryder, I, Parsons, B, Wright, TJ, Funning, GJ, (2007) ‘Post-seismic motion following the 1997 Manyi (Tibet) earthquake: InSAR observations and modelling’, GEOPHYSICAL JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL. pp. 1009-1027 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2006.03312.x
  • Pathier, E, Fielding, EJ, Wright, TJ, Walker, R, Parsons, BE, Hensley, S, (2006) ‘Displacement field and slip distribution of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake from SAR imagery’, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS. pp. doi: 10.1029/2006GL027193
  • Funning, GJ, Parsons, B, Wright, TJ, Jackson, JA, Fielding, EJ, (2005) ‘Surface displacements and source parameters of the 2003 Bam (Iran) earthquake from Envisat advanced synthetic aperture radar imagery’, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH. pp. 1-23 doi: 10.1029/2004JB003338
  • Wright, TJ, Parsons, B, England, PC, Fielding, EJ, (2004) ‘InSAR observations of low slip rates on the major faults of western Tibet.’, Science. pp. 236-239 doi: 10.1126/science.1096388
  1. Elliott, J. R., J. Biggs, B. Parsons and T. J. Wright (2008).
    InSAR slip rate determination on the Altyn Tagh Fault, northern Tibet, in the presence of topographically correlated atmospheric delays, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L12309, doi:10.1029/2008GL033659, 2008.
  2. Biggs J., J. Biggs, Z. Lu, and B.E. Parsons (2007).
    Multi-interferogram method for measuring interseismic deformation: Denali Fault, Alaska, Geophys. J. Int. 170, 1165-1179.
  3. Funning G., B. E. Parsons, and T. J. Wright (2007).
    Fault slip in the 1997 Manyi, Tibet earthquake from linear elastic modelling of InSAR displacements, Geophys. J. Int., 169, 988-1008.
  4. Nissen E., B. Emmerson, G. Funning, A. Mistrukov, B.E. Parsons, D. Robinson, E. Roghozin, and E. Roghozin (2007).
    The 2003 Siberian earthquake: right-lateral strike-slip motion and clockwise rotations in the northern India-Eurasia collision zone, Geophys. J. Int., 169, 216-232.
  5. Nissen E., M. Ghorashi, J. Jackson, B.E. Parsons, and M. Talebian (2007).
    The 2005 Qeshm Island earthquake (Iran): a link between buried reverse faulting and surface folding in the Zagros Simply Folded Belt?, Geophys. J. Int., 171, 326-338.
  6. Ryder I., B.E. Parsons, T. J. Wright , and G. Funning (2007).
    Postseismic motion following the 1997 Manyi (Tibet) earthquake: InSAR observations and modeling, Geophys. J. Int., 169, 1009-1027.
  7. Biggs J., E. Bergman, B. Emmerson, G. Funning, J.A. Jackson, B.E. Parsons and T.J. Wright (2006).
    Fault identification in buried strike-slip earthquakes using InSAR: the 1994 and 2004 Al Hoceima, Morocco, earthquakes, Geophys. J. Int., 166, 1347-1362.
  8. Jackson J.A., M. Bouchon, E.J. Fielding, G. Funning, D. Ghorashi, D. Hatzfel, H. Nazari, B.E. Parsons, K. Priestley, M. Talebian, M. Tatar, R. Walker, and R. Walker (2006).
    Seismotectonic, rupture-process, and earthquake-hazard aspects of the 26 December 2003 Bam, Iran, earthquake, Geophys. J. Int., 166, 1270-1292.
  9. Parsons B.E., T. J. Wright, P. Rowe, J. Andrews, J.A. Jackson, R. Walker, M.M. Khatib, and M. Talebian (2006).
    The 1994 Sefidabeh (eastern Iran) earthquakes revisited: new evidence from satellite radar interferometry and carbonate dating about the growth of an active fold above a blind thrust fault, Geophys. J. Int., 164, 202-217.
  10. Pathier, E., Fielding, E.J., Wright, T.J., Walker, R., Parsons, B.E., Hensley, S. (2006).
    Displacement field and slip distribution of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake from SAR imagery, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L20310, 10.1029/2006GL027193.
  11. Talebian M., J. Biggs, M. Bolourchi, A. Copley, A. Ghassemi, M. Ghorashi, J. Hollingsworth, J.A. Jackson, E. Nissen, B. Oveisi, B.E. Parsons, and K. Priestley (2006).
    The Dahiuyeh (Zarand) earthquake of 2005 February 22 in central Iran: reactivation of an intramountain reverse fault, Geophys. J. Int., 164, 137-148.
  12. Funning G., R. Barke, S. Lamb, E. Minaya, B.E. Parsons and T.J Wright (2005).
    The 1998 Aiquile, Bolivia earthquake: a seismically active fault revealed with InSAR, Earth Planet Sci. Lett., 232, 39-49.
  13. Funning, G.J., B. Parsons, T.J. Wright, J.A. Jackson and E. J. Fielding (2005).
    Surface displacements and source parameters of the 2003 Bam (Iran) earthquake from Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery, J. Geophys. Res., 110, B09406, doi:10.1029/2004JB003338.
  14. Nocquet J.-M., E. Calais, and B.E. Parsons (2003).
    Geodetic constraints on glacial isostatic adjustment in Europe, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L06308, doi:10.1029/2004GL022174.
  15. Fielding, E.J., T.J. Wright, J. Muller, B.E. Parsons and R. Walker (2004).
    Aseismic deformation of a fold-and-thrust belt imaged by synthetic aperture radar interferometry near Shahdad, southeast Iran, Geology, 32, 577-580, doi: 10.1130/G20452.1.
  16. Talebian, M., E.J. Fielding, G. Funning, M. Ghorashi, J.A. Jackson, H. Nazari, B.E. Parsons, K. Priestley, P.A. Rosen, R. Walker, and T.J. Wright (2004).
    The 2003 Bam (Iran) earthquake: Rupture of a blind strike-slip fault, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L11611, doi:10.1029/2004GL0200.
  17. Wright, T.J., B. Parsons, P.C. England and E.J. Fielding (2004).
    InSAR observations of low slip rates on the major faults of western Tibet, Science, 305, 236-239.
  18. Wright, T.J., B.E. Parsons, and Z. Lu (2004).
    Toward mapping surface deformation in three dimensions using InSAR, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L01607.
  19. Moore, M., P. England, and B. Parsons (2002).
    Relation between surface velocity field and shear wave splitting in the South Island of New Zealand, J. Geophys. Res., 107, 2198, doi:10.1029/2000JB000093.
  20. Berberian, M., C. Baker, E. Fielding, J. A. Jackson, B. E. Parsons, K. Priestley, M. Qorashi, M. Talebian, R. Walker and T. J. Wright (2001).
    The 14 March 1998 Fandoqa earthquake (Mw 6.6) in Kerman province, S. E. Iran: re-rupture of the 1981 Sirch earthquake fault, triggering of slip on adjacent thrusts, and the active tectonics of the Gowk fault zone, Geophys. J. Int., 146, 371-398.
  21. Wright, T., E. Fielding, and B. E. Parsons (2001).
    Triggered slip: observations of the 17 August 1999 Izmit (Turkey) earthquake using radar interferometry, Geophys. Res. Lett., 28, 1079-1082.
  22. Wright, T., B. Parsons, and E. J. Fielding (2001).
    Measurement of interseismic strain accumulation across the North Anatolian fault by satellite radar interferometry, Geophys. Res. Lett., 28, 1079-1082.
  23. Beavan, R. J., M. Moore, C. Pearson, M. Henderson, B. Parsons, S. Bourne, P. England, R. Walcott, G. Blick, D. Darby and K. Hodgkinson (1999).
    J. Geophys. Res., 104, 25,233-25,255.
  24. Wright, T. J., B. E. Parsons, J. A. Jackson, M. Haynes, E. J. Fielding, P. C. England, and P. J. Clarke (1999).
    Source parameters of the 1 October 1995 Dinar (Turkey) earthquake from SAR interferometry and seismic bodywave modelling, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 172, 23-37.
  25. Bourne, S. J., P. C. England and B. Parsons (1998).
    The motion of crustal blocks driven by flow of the lower lithosphere and implications for slip rates of continental strike-slip faults, Nature, 391, 655-659, 1998.
  26. Bourne, S. J., T. Árnadóttir, J. Beavan, D. J. Darby, P. C. England, B. Parsons, R. I. Walcott and P. R. Wood (1998).
    Crustal deformation of the Marlborough Fault Zone in the South Island of New Zealand: Geodetic constraints over the interval 1982-1994, J. Geophys. Res., 103, 30,147-30,165.
  27. Clarke, P. J., R. R. Davies, P. C. England, B. E. Parsons, H. Billiris, D. Paradissis, G. Veis, P. A. Cross, P. H. Denys, V. Ashkenazi, R. Bingley, H.-G. Kahle, M.-V. Muller and P. Briole (1998).
    Crustal strain in central Greece from repeated GPS measurements in the interval 1989-1997, Geophys. J. Int., 135, 195-214.
  28. Clarke, P. J., D. Paradissis, P. Briole, P. C. England, B. E. Parsons, H. Billiris, G. Veis and J.-C. Ruegg (1998).
    Reply to Comments on ” Geodetic investigation of the 13 May 1995 Kozani-Grevena earthquake” by Meyer et al., Geophys. Res. Lett., 25, 129-130.
  29. Hwang, C., E.-C. Kao and B. Parsons (1998).
    Global derivation of marine gravity anomalies from Seasat, Geosat, ERS-1 and TOPEX/POSEIDON altimeter data,Geophys. J. Int., 134 449-459.
  30. Searle, R. C., J. A. Keeton, R. B. Owens, R. S. White, R. Meckelnburgh, B. Parsons and S. M. Lee (1998).
    The Reykjanes Ridge: structure and tectonics of a hot-spot-influenced, slow-spreading ridge, from multibeam bathymetry, gravity and magnetic investigations, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 160, 463-478.
  31. Clarke, P. J., D. Paradissis, P. Briole, P. C. England, B. E. Parsons, H. Billiris, G. Veis and J.-C. Ruegg (1997).
    Geodetic investigation of the 13 May 1995 Kozani-Grevena earthquake, Geophys. Res. Lett., 24, 707-710.
  32. Clarke, P. J., R. R. Davies, P. C. England, B. E. Parsons, H. Billiris, D. Paradissis, G. Veis, P. H. Denys, P. A. Cross, V. Ashkenazi and R. Bingley (1997).
    Geodetic estimate of seismic hazard in the Gulf of Korinthos, Geophys. Res. Lett., 24, 1303-1306, 1997.
  33. Davies, R. R., P. C. England, B. Parsons, H. Billiris, D. Paradissis and G. Veis (1997).
    Geodetic strain of Greece in the interval 1892-1992, J. Geophys. Res.,102, 24,571-24,588.
  34. Keeton, J. A., R. C. Searle, B. Parsons, R. S. White, B. J. Murton, L. M. Parson, C. Peirce and M. C. Sinha (1997).
    Bathymetry of the Reykjanes Ridge, Mar. Geophys. Res., 19, 55-64.
  35. Hwang, C., and B. Parsons (1996).
    An optimal procedure for deriving marine gravity from multi-satellite altimetry, Geophys. J. Int., 125, 705-718.
  36. Cazenave, A., B. Parsons and P. Calgano (1995). Geoid lineations of 1000 km wavelength over the Central Pacific, Geophys. Res. Lett., 22, 97-100.
  37. Hwang, C., and B. Parsons (1995).
    Gravity anomalies over the Reykjanes Ridge from Seasat, Geosat, ERS-1 and TOPEX/POSEIDON altimeter and ship gravity data, Geophys. J. Int., 122, 551-568.
  38. Moresi, L., and B. Parsons (1995).
    Interpreting gravity, geoid and topography for convection with temperature dependent viscosity: application to surface features on Venus, J. Geophys. Res., 100, 21,155-21,171.
  39. Hwang, C., B. Parsons, T. Strange and A. Bingham (1994).
    A detailed gravity field over the Reykjanes Ridge from Seasat, Geosat, ERS-1 and Topex/Poseidon altimeter data and shipborne gravity data, Geophys. Res. Lett., 21, 2841-2844.
  40. Owens, R., and B. Parsons (1994).
    Gravity fields over mid-ocean ridges from Geosat GM data: variations as a function of spreading rate, Geophys. Res. Lett., 21, 2837-2840.
  41. England, P., and B. Parsons (1993).
    Velocity fields for the Aegean from GPS strain measurements and earthquake source mechanisms, Proc. Conf. of International Workshop on GPS in Geosciences, pp 239-245.
  42. Goodwillie, A. M. and B. Parsons (1992).
    Placing bounds on lithospheric deformation in the central Pacific Ocean, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 111, 123-139.
  43. McKenzie, D., P. G. Ford, C. Johnson, B. Parsons, G. H. Pettengill, D. Sandwell, S. Saunders and S. C. Solomon (1992).
    Features on Venus generated by plate boundary processes, J. Geophys. Res., 97, 13,533-13,544.
  44. Billiris, H., D. Paradissis, G. Veis, P. England, W. Featherstone, B. Parsons, P. Cross, P. Rands, M. Rayson, P. Sellers, V. Ashkenazi, M. Davison, J. Jackson and N. Ambraseys (1991).
    Geodetic determination of tectonic deformation in central Greece from 1900 to 1988, Nature, 350, 124-129.
  45. Solomon, S. C., J. W. Head, W. M. Kaula, D. McKenzie, B. Parsons, R. J. Phillips, G. Schubert and M. Talwani (1991). Venus tectonics: initial analysis from Magellan, Science, 252, 297- 312.
  46. Freedman, A. P. and B. Parsons (1990).
    Geoid anomalies over two South Atlantic fracture zones, Earth. Planet. Sci. Lett., 100, 18-41.
  47. O’Nions, R. K. and B. Parsons (1989).
    Editors, Seismic Tomography and Mantle Circulation, pp. 152, The Royal Society, 1989.
  48. Abers, G. A., B. Parsons and J. K. Weissel (1988). Seamount abundances and distributions in the Southeast Pacific, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 87, 137-151.
  49. Driscoll, M., and B. Parsons (1988).
    Cooling of the oceanic lithosphere: evidence from geoid anomalies across the Udintsev and Eltanin fracture zones, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 88, 289-307.
  50. Robinson, E. M., and B. Parsons (1988).
    Effect of a shallow low-viscosity zone on the formation of mid-plate swells, J. Geophys. Res., 93, 3144-3156, 1988.
  51. Robinson, E. M., and B. Parsons (1988).
    Effect of a shallow low-viscosity zone on small-scale instabilities under the cooling oceanic plates, J. Geophys. Res., 93, 3469-3479, 1988.
  52. Robinson, E. M., B. Parsons and M. Driscoll (1988).
    The effect of a shallow low-viscosity zone on the mantle flow, the geoid anomalies, and the geoid and depth-age relationship at fracture zones, Geophys. J., 93, 25-43, 1988.
  53. Revenaugh, J., and B. Parsons (1987).
    Dynamic topography and gravity anomalies for fluid layers whose viscosity varies exponentially with depth, Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 90, 349-368.
  54. Robinson, E. M., B. Parsons, and S. F. Daly (1987).
    The effects of a low-viscosity zone on the apparent compensation of mid-plate swells, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 82, 335-348.
  55. Detrick, R. S., R. P. Von Herzen, B. Parsons, D. Sandwell and M. Dougherty (1986).
    Heat flow observations on the Bermuda Rise and thermal models of mid-plate swells, J. Geophys. Res., 81, 3701-3723.
  56. Freedman, A.P., and B. Parsons (1986).
    Seasat-derived gravity over the Musicians Seamounts, J. Geophys. Res., 91, 8325-8340.
  57. Jaupart, C., and B. Parsons (1985).
    Convective instabilities in a variable viscosity fluid cooled from above, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 39, 14-32.
  58. Parsons, B. (1985).
    Mantle convection and the Earth’s gravity field, in Internal Geophysics and Space, pp. 111-158, Cepadues-Editions, Toulouse.
  59. Watts, A. B., D. P. McKenzie, B. Parsons and M. Roufosse (1985).
    The relationship between gravity and bathymetry in the Pacific Ocean, Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 83, 263-298.
  60. Parsons, B. and S. Daly (1983).
    The relationship between surface topography, gravity anomalies, and the temperature structure of convection, J. Geophys. Res., 88, 1129-1144.
  61. Le Douaran, S. and B. Parsons (1982). A note on the correction of ocean floor depths for sediment loading, J. Geophys. Res., 87, 4715-4722.
  62. Parsons, B. (1982).
    Causes and consequences of the relation between area and age of the ocean floor, J. Geophys. Res., 87, 289-302.
  63. Royden, L. and B. Parsons (1982).
    A comparison of discrete and continuous intrusion models for the thermal structure of the plates, Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 70, 741-753.
  64. Zlotniki, V., B. Parsons and C. Wunsch (1982).
    The inverse problem of constructing a gravimetric geoid, J. Geophys. Res., 87, 1835-1848.
  65. Parsons, B. (1981).
    The rates of plate creation and consumption, Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 67, 437-448.
  66. Parsons, B. and F. M. Richter (1981).
    Mantle convection and the oceanic lithosphere, Volume 7 of `The Sea’, `The Oceanic Lithosphere’, ed. C. Emiliani, pp. 73-117, John Wiley ans Sons, New York.
  67. Sclater, J. G., B. Parsons and C. Jaupart (1981).
    Oceans and continents: similarities and differences in the mechanisms of heat loss, J. Geophys. Res., 86, 11,535-11,552.
  68. Sclater, J. G., R. L. Fisher, P. Patriat, C. Tapscott and B. Parsons (1981).
    Eocene to Recent development of the Southeast Indian Ridge, a consequence of the evolution of the Indian Ocean Triple Junction, Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 64, 587-604.
  69. Sinha, M. C., K. E. Louden and B. Parsons (1981).
    The crustal structure of the Madagascar Ridge, Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 66, 351-377.
  70. McKenzie, D., A. Watts, B. Parsons and M. Roufosse (1980).
    The planform of mantle convection beneath the Pacific Ocean, Nature, 288 442-446.
  71. Parsons, B. and F. M. Richter (1980).
    A relation between the driving force and geoid anomaly associated with mid-ocean ridges, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 51, 445-450.
  72. Tapscott, C. P., P. Patriat, J. G. Sclater, R. L. Fisher, H. Hoskins and B. Parsons (1980).
    The Indian Ocean Triple Junction, J. Geophys. Res., 85, 4723-4739.
  73. Simpson, E. S. W., J. G. Sclater, B. Parsons, I. Norton and L. Meinke (1979).
    Mesozoic magnetic lineations in the Mozambique basin, Earth Planet Sci. Lett., 43, 260-264.
  74. Parsons, B. and D. McKenzie (1978).
    Mantle convection and the thermal structure of the plates, J. Geophys. Res., 83, 4485-4496.
  75. Whitehead, J. A. and B. Parsons (1978).
    Observations of convection at Rayleigh numbers up to 760,000 in a fluid with large Prandtl number, Geophys. Astrophys. Fluid Dynamics, 9, 201- 217.
  76. Parsons, B. and J. G. Sclater (1977).
    An analysis of the variation of ocean floor depth and heat flow with age, J. Geophys. Res., 82, 803-827.
  77. Parsons, B. and P. Molnar (1976).
    The origin of outer topographic rises associated with trenches, Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 45, 707-712.
  78. Sclater, J. G. and B. Parsons (1976).
    Reply to comments on `Comparison of long wavelength residual elevation and free air gravity anomalies in the North Atlantic and possible implications for the thickness of the lithospheric plate’, J. Geophys. Res., 81, 4960-4964.
  79. Richter, F. M. and B. Parsons (1975).
    On the interaction of two scales of convection in the mantle, J. Geophys. Res., 80, 2529-2541.
  80. Sclater, J. G., L. A. Lawver and B. Parsons (1975).
    Comparison of long wavelength residual elevation anomalies in the North Atlantic and possible implications for the thickness of the lithospheric plate, J. Geophys. Res., 80, 1031-1053.