The British Geophysical Association

PGRIP 2018 Award Winners

Congratulations to the award winners at the 2018 PGRIP meeting in Cardiff. To see the winners list visit

Sanne Cottaar awarded 2019 Bullerwell Lecture

Sanne Cottaar from the University of Cambridge will be the Bullerwell Lecturer for 2019. This lecture, to be given by ‘An outstanding early career British Geophysicist’ has been presented each year since 1981 and is one of the principal events in the British Geophysical Association calendar. For more details about Sanne’s research, see

Phil Christie Wins Schlumberger Award

Phil Christie, a former Bullerwell lecturer, has won the Conrad Schlumberger award of EAGE. For more information see

The citation reads:

Phil Christie is a geophysicist with a rare and impressively broad understanding of both geology and geophysics. His widely-disseminated research has had a lasting impact on sedimentary basin subsidence analysis and reservoir science. Phil has had an outstanding career in Schlumberger since 1972, with a break for PhD and post-doctoral research at Cambridge, 1975-1980, and secondment to BP Exploration, Aberdeen, 1996-97. Since 2000 Phil has been Scientific Advisor at Schlumberger Cambridge Research. Underlying many of his major achievements are his innovations in instrumentation, data acquisition and data processing and his collaboration with academia.
Among his numerous achievements we mention three. His 1980 JGR paper with John Sclater on the mid-Cretaceous subsidence of the North Sea become a standard reference for basin modelling studies with almost 2000 citations. Phil jointly coordinated the BP-Shell-Schlumberger time-lapse seismic project in BP’s Foinaven field, which quantified the repeatability of seismic data from both towed streamer and the first working seabed array, demonstrating the ability to monitor fluid flow and pressure changes in the reservoir following production. After the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami, Phil helped design and implement a deep seismic experiment offshore Sumatra, which for the first time allowed the subducting plate to be imaged down to 50 km depth, leading to 5 PhDs and 15 papers in peer-reviewed international journals.
For his outstanding ability to enhance the understanding of earth properties through scientific research and innovative geoscience technologies, his exceptional expertise in geophysics, reservoir science and geology, his advisory and leadership role in the scientific community and his lasting impact on the understanding of petroleum systems, EAGE is delighted to present the 2018 Conrad Schlumberger Award to Phil Christie.



New Advances in Geophysics: The Future of Passive Seismic Acquisition

BGA meeting to be held on 12th – 13th November, 2018, at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Registration will cost £80 (full) or £40 (student). For more information, visit:

Bullerwell Lecture 2018 at EGU

Dr Tom Mitchell (UCL) gives this year’s Bullerwell Lecture at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting in Vienna at 7 pm on Thursday 12 April, in room 2.15 of the Austria Centre.

The Bullerwell Lecture is the British Geophysical Association’s prestigious named lecture awarded to an early-career UK-based geophysicist.


We hope to see many people there.

Bullerwell Lecture 2018 title

Earthquake fracture damage and healing: feedback on rupture dynamics


The importance of the damage zone in the faulting and earthquake process is widely recognized, but our understanding of how damage zones are created, what their properties are, and how they feed back into the seismic cycle, is remarkably poorly known. Firstly, damaged rocks have reduced elastic moduli, cohesion and yield strength, which can cause attenuation and potentially non-linear wave propagation effects during ruptures. Secondly, damaged fault rocks are generally more permeable than intact rocks, and hence play a key role in the migration of fluids in and around fault zones over the seismic cycle. Finally, the dynamic generation of damage as the earthquake propagates can itself influence the dynamics of rupture propagation, by increasing the amount of energy dissipation, decreasing the rupture velocity, modifying the size of the earthquake, changing the efficiency of weakening mechanisms such as thermal pressurisation of pore fluids, and even generating seismic waves itself. On top of this, instantaous reductions in crustal seismic velocity following earthquakes has been used to infer dynamic damage, but a growing body of geophysical evidence exists for ‘healing’ processes occurring in the crust following such earthquakes, inferred from time-dependent increases in seismic velocity lasting from days to years. All of these effects imply that a feedback exists between the damage imparted immediately after rupture propagation, at the early stages of fault slip, and the effects of that damage on subsequent ruptures dynamics. As such, investigating the relative contributions of individual ruptures to cumulative off-fault damage is critical to fully understand the earthquake energy budget.
In recent years, much debate has been sparked by the identification of so-called ‘pulverized rocks’ described on various crustal-scale faults, a type of intensely damaged fault rock which has undergone minimal shear strain, and the occurrence of which has been linked to damage induced by transient high strain-rate stress perturbations during earthquake rupture. Damage induced by such transient stresses, whether compressional or tensional, likely constitute heterogeneous modulations of the remote stresses that will impart significant changes on the strength, elastic and fluid flow properties of a fault zone immediately after rupture propagation, at the early stage of fault slip.
In this contribution, I will present high resolution datasets of fault zone co-seismic damage patterns from the micro- to km-scale, on several active and inactive crustal scale fault zones. This damage has been quantified using state of the art damage analysis techniques, from CT scanning at the microscopic scale, to using drones and photogrammetry/structure-from-motion to produce high resolution macroscopic structure, damage and alteration maps both along strike and perpendicular to major active and inactive fault structures. Depth and subsurface extent of this damage is then constrained by gravitmetric surveys, magenetotellurics and seismological techniques. In this context, I will then demonstrate and discuss laboratory and field examples of coseismic mechanisms that induce pulverization through dynamic modulations in stress, acting as energy sinks during earthquakes and the feedbacks on rupture dynamics

2017 PGRiP winners



Congratulations to our 2017 PGRiP presentation winners:

Best Talk

1st Oliver Sanford (Durham) “Modelling Seismic Wave Propagation and Scattering within Extrusive Basalt Sequences”

2nd Alistair Boyce (Imperial) “Insights into the Tectonics of the Eastern North American Shield at the Macro-scale: A new Absolute P-wave Tomographic Model for North America”

Best Poster

1st Guy Paxman (Durham) “Lithospheric Flexure in East Antarctica: the Origin and Evolution of the Transantarctic Mountains and Wilkes Subglacial Basin”

2nd Daniel Possee (Southampton) “Seismicity and Local Earthquake Tomography from Haiti”

New Year Honour for Professor Willy Aspinall

Congratulations to Professor Willy Aspinall, Cabot Professor in Natural Hazards and Risk Science at the University of Bristol, who was appointed a companion to the Order of St Michael and St George for his services to the Government and community in Montserrat in the New Year Honours. More details here:

2016 PGRiP winners


Congratulations to our 2016 PGRiP presentation winners

Best Talk

1st Adam Robinson – Durham

Construction and Subduction of the Louisville Ridge Seamount Chain – Insights from Wide-Angle Seismic Imaging

2nd Rebecca Coats – Liverpool

Lava dome eruptions: testing the strain rate dependence of porous lava rheology


Best Poster

1st Jennifer Jenkins – Cambridge

Converted phases from sharp mid-mantle heterogeneity beneath Western Europe

2nd Aude Lavayssiere – Southampton

Imaging lithospheric discontinuities using S to P receiver functions


EAGE Erasmus award 2016

Congratulations to Anton Ziolkowski for winning this year’s  EAGE Erasmus award!

Details on the award and Dr Ziolkowski’s work can be found here on the EAGE website.

PDR Position – Durham


Postdoctoral Researcher on modelling global volatile cycling and mantle dynamics




21st May 2016


We seek a postdoctoral researcher with geodynamical modelling experience to study the volatile exchange between the deep Earth and the exosphere and the related secular evolution of mantle dynamics using spherical numerical 3D mantle dynamics models.

This post is part of a NERC funded consortium on “The Feedback Between Volatiles and Mantle Dynamics”, which includes team members from UCL, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Durham. The aim of this consortium is to understand the role of water and other volatiles on the mantle dynamics of the Earth and the operation of plate tectonics through time. This consortium is one of three funded consortia on “Volatiles, Geodynamics & Solid Earth Controls on the Habitable Planet”. More information on the consortia is available at

The postdoctoral research position will be full-time, fixed term (3 years), based at Durham University, UK, with summer 2016 as preferred start date. The successful applicant will closely collaborate with several team members of the consortium, in particular Dr Jeroen van Hunen (Durham) and Prof Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni (UCL), and will interact with the other consortia members in NERC’s Deep Volatile Programme.

The closing date for applications is 21st May 2016. Further job details and application information can be found via . For any further questions, please contact me

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