Current research themes fall broadly into the following main areas:
– Regional tectonics. Plate-scale tectonic motions are accommodated across regions thousands of kilometres in extent, and involve slip on numerous active faults. The effects of pre-existing geological structure, strength contrasts, and topography all contribute to the types and sizes of earthquakes that might occur. By mapping regional distribution of active faults, measuring their styles and rates of slip, and combining this geological data with modern measurements of surface deformation obtained from GNSS and satellite radar we can gain a better understanding of how populations of faults accommodate regional tectonic motions. Recent examples of this type of work include studies of the Ordos region of China, the Tien Shan of central Asia, and the Kopeh Dagh and Caspian regions of Turkmenistan and Iran. Through the Leverhulme Trust NEPTUNE program, we are also using marine geophysical data to examine the active tectonics of offshore regions, with foci in the eastern Mediterranean and Caspian seas.
– Earthquakes. Earthquakes are a primary source of information for understanding how tectonic plate motions are accommodated. They are also a major threat to a large part of the world’s population. In continental interiors there may be gaps of hundreds or even thousands of years between events in individual regions, though their effects can be devastating. We have a long record of research into past earthquake activity, providing forensic studies that help estimate hazards, as well as furthering understanding of continental deformation in general. A current focus is the forensic study of large 20th century, historic, and prehistoric earthquakes to shed light on the controls on earthquake occurrence in the continental interiors, as well as combining geological and archaeological approaches to glean additional insights. We combine our expertise in the study of past earthquakes with multi-disciplinary studies of recent significant earthquakes, including fieldwork, remote-sensing mapping, seismology, and satellite geodesy.
– Interaction of climate and tectonics in shaping landscapes. The landscapes of tectonically active regions are modified both by movement on active faults and by changes in climate. A challenge is to unravel their competing effects to better understand the timing and causes of landscape evolution. One focus of this research theme is in Iran, where we have established late Quaternary stratigraphy and palaeoclimatic records from cave carbonates. We are working to combine improved knowledge of rates of faulting and of palaeoclimatic changes to address the drivers and chronology of landscape evolution in these currently arid regions. We are particularly interested in how past changes have affected human societies, and how these might give insight into present-day and future pressures in water restricted parts of the world.
– Hazards. The scientific investigation of earthquakes is intrinsically linked to societal issues of hazard and vulnerability. Our research into tectonic geomorphology, palaeoseismology, and studies of modern earthquakes all feed into a better awareness of earthquake hazard. We explore ways to disseminate our findings and to develop the results into risk reduction and resilience building activities.
Within our team we offer opportunities over a wide range of research studies. A typical doctoral project would involve components of fieldwork, remote-sensing, and laboratory analysis of samples. We give short descriptions of our current team and their work below. Our past students and postdocs have gone on to a wide array of careers in industry and academia.