The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research Group: Geology and Geophysics

Currently Active: 

The Geology and Geophysics Research Group includes about 60 staff and PhD students. We are among the most active research groups in this field in Europe.

Group Overview

Our specific research strengths include:

  • the tectonics and dynamics of active plate boundaries and continental margins including sub-seabed fluid flow processes
  • continental slope and deep-water sedimentation processes including mass-wasting, geohazards, environmental geology and ecosystems
  • the role of fault system growth and evolution in crustal deformation
  • coastal and continental shelf sedimentary environments and processes including the interaction with engineering structures
  • high resolution quantitative and qualitative analysis of the seabed and immediate sub-surface using active and passive acoustics and controlled source electromagnetics

Our work is underpinned by world-class facilities for controlled source electromagnetic sounding, ocean bottom seismology, high resolution sea floor imagery, and the analysis of cores and other sea-bottom samples.

To find out more about our current activities please visit the Geology & Geophysics Blog

Contact: Dr Justin Dix

Associated research themes

Coastal and Shelf Processes


High Resolution Marine Geophysics

We have over 20 years experience of collecting high resolution geophysical data for research projects as diverse as small object detection (including forensic work); wreck based surveys, Quaternary natural and archaeological landscape studies, neotectonics, and large scale sedimentological and structural analysis.

3D Chirp

3d Chirp is a surface-towed sub-bottom profiling system capable of imaging the upper tens of metres of the sub-surface on three dimensions with decimetric horizontal and centimetric vertical resolution.


The Ocean Bottom Instrumentation Consortium aims to provide the academic and commercial communities with access to multi-sensor, versatile seabed instruments to enable sub-surface geophysical imaging at high vertical and lateral resolution.

Seafloor EM

The university is equipped to carry out field research programes in CSEM surveys - for both academic and applied research topics.

Geosciences Advisory Unit (GAU)

GAU-Radioanalytical is an industry and government-agency focussed organisation that offers specialist radioanalytical research and analytical services.

Rock Preparation and Thin-Sectioning Laboratory

This facility primarily focuses on making high quality sections of a range of materials for teaching and research. Cutting services, vacuum impregnation and staining techniques are also available.

Research Vessels

We have two vessels based at NOCS that are available to staff and students of Ocean and Earth Science. R.V. Callista and R.V. Bill Conway.

Palaeomagnetism and Environmental Magnetism Laboratory

This facility houses state-of-the-art instrumentation as well as a shielded room to support paleomagnetism, rock and mineral magnetism, magnet stratigraphy, and palaeoenvironment related research.

X-Ray Diffraction Facility

The XRD facility located at NOCS provides a service for the qualitative or quantitative analysis of rock samples to determine bulk mineralogy and/or clay mineralogy.



Postgraduate opportunities

PhD Project Titles

Oil & Gas CDT Funding

Active fault kinematics during non-volcanic rifting in East Africa
Dr Derek Keir, Prof Jonathan M Bull

Bayesian analysis of marine controlled source electromagnetic data for a laterally-variable subsurface
Prof Tim Minshull, Lead Supervisor: Dr Romina A. S. Gehrmann (UoS), Prof Stan E. Dosso (University of Victoria, Canada)

Characterising the permeability and structure of onshore and offshore chimney structures - relevance to Carbon Capture and Storage
Prof Jonathan M Bull, Tom Gernon, Angus Best (NOCS)

Clastic Shelf Plays, Reservoirs and Seals: New insights through the correlation of high resolution seismic imaging of Quaternary and terrestrial analogues
Dr Justin Dix, Dr Esther Sumner

Crustal and sedimentary structure of the Eastern Black Sea Basin from long-offset seismic reflection data
Prof Tim Minshull, Héctor Marín Moreno

Reconstructing the ocean floor shape in turbidite basins using seismic interpretation, forward modelling, and outcrop analogues
Dr Frank Peel (NOCS), Esther Sumner (UoS), Gillian Apps (NOCS) and Doug Paton (Leeds)

Subsea impact assessment using active and passive acoustic inversion methods
Dr Mark Vardy, Mike Clare, Matthieu Cartigny, Mohammed Belal (Physics Dept UoS), Matthew Himsworth (Physics Dept UoS)

Triggering of giant submarine landslides and implications for hydrocarbon structures
Mike Clare, Dr Mark Vardy, Lead Supervisor: Antonis Zervos (Faculty of Engineering & the Environment, University of Southampton)

Projects-Tied Funding

BLUE MINING: Development of a model for multi-frequency sonar backscatter responses of the seafloor with applications to the assessment of polymetallic nodule density and abundance and environmental mapping
Dr Tim Le Bas, Dr Bramley Murton, Prof Tim Henstock

Volcanological development of the North Atlantic during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum
Dr Thomas Michael Gernon, Prof Martin Palmer, Prof Gavin Foster, Prof Toby Tyrrell, Dr Ian Harding

NEXUSS Funding

Scour Evolution Around Offshore Structures
Dr Justin Dix, Dr Mark Vardy, Professor Richard Whitehouse and Dr John Harris (HR Wallingford); Dr Chris Roman (University of Rhode Island); Peter Hogarth (Kongsberg Maritime)

Using AUVs to develop multispectral geoacoustic characterization of the seafloor and sub-seafloor
Dr Bramley Murton, Dr Mark Vardy, Prof.Tim Henstock, Dr Tim Le Bas

Smart Coast: Adaptive real-time assessment of coastal bio-dynamics using UAV and AUVs
Professor Martin Solan (UoS-OES; Lead Supervisor), Dr Julian Leyland (UoS-GEOG), Dr Charlie Thompson (UoS-OES), Dr Sasan Mahmoodi (UoS-ECS), Dr. John Howe (SAMS)

Other Projects

Faulting, fluids and geohazards within subduction zone forearcs
Prof Lisa McNeill, Prof Tim Henstock, Prof Tim Minshull, Professor Sanderson David

Seismic constraints on fluid escape structures in the North Sea
Prof Tim Minshull, Prof Jonathan M Bull, Prof Christian Berndt (Geomar)

Subsea Transmission: Economic and Environmental Limitations
Dr Jose Olmo (Economics), Dr Justin Dix, Dr James Pilgrim (ECS), Dr Tom Gernon

Tectonic Ocean Spreading at the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone (TOSCA)
Dr Bramley Murton, Prof Tim Henstock, Dr Aggeliki Georgiopoulou (University College Dublin)

Sea Level, Marine Connectivity, and Climate History of the Southwestern Black Sea over the Past 20 Thousand Years
Dr Steve Bohaty, Dr Justin Dix, Professor Jon Adams (Archaeology), Dr Fraser Sturt (Archaeology)

Mapping potential wreck sites with seafloor data - scientific, social and legal considerations
Dr Fraser Sturt (Archaeology), Dr Justin Dix (OES) and Prof Michael Tsimplis (Law)

SPITFIRE Projects - Applications Closed

Assessing the viability of Arctic hydrate exploitation
Prof Tim Minshull, Lead Supervisor - Dr H. Marín Moreno (NOCS), Dr Marije Schaafsma (Ocean & Earth Science, UoS)

Bayesian inversion of controlled source electromagnetic data for a laterally variable subsurface
Prof Tim Minshull, Lead Supervisor - Dr R. Gehrmann (UoS), Prof S.E. Dosso (University of Victoria)

Controls on surface bed layer structure and stability: in situ quantification
Dr Mark Vardy, Dr Charlie Thompson, Dr Justin Dix, I. Townend (CoastalSEA/Ocean & Earth Science, UoS), M. Knaapen (HR Wallingford)

Deformation-related electrical conduction mechanisms and seismic anisotropy in and below the Australian lithosphere
Fiona Simpson (Ocean & Earth Science, UoS), Kate Rychert (Ocean & Earth Science, UoS)

Dynamics of spit-delta formation and breakdown
Mr Hachem Kassem, Lead Supervisor - I.H. Townend (OES/UoS, CoastalSEA), R Nicholls, Faculty of Engineering & the Environment (UoS)

How do subduction zones initiate, develop and end: Imaging the Reversal of Subduction in Papua New Guinea
Dr Nicholas Harmon, Brian Savage (University of Rhode Island)

How faults interact within active rift zones (East Africa, Central Greece) at ultra high resolution
Prof Jonathan M Bull, Dr Derek Keir, Lead Supervisor - Prof Lisa McNeill (Ocean & Earth Sciences, UoS)

Imaging in three dimensions the physical properties of hyper-extended continental crust west of Iberia
Prof Tim Minshull, Prof Jonathan M Bull, Prof. J. Morgan (Imperial)

Monterey Canyon – Understanding the tempo of sediment transport into the deep ocean; the most ambitious direct monitoring of submarine flows yet attempted
Mike Clare, Dr Peter J Talling, Dr Esther Sumner, Matthieu Cartigny, Charlie Paull (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

Optimised seismic imaging of marine near-surface sediments
Prof Tim Henstock, Dr Mark Vardy

Seismic Imaging of Volatiles and Melt in the Antilles Subduction Zones
Kate Rychert (Ocean & Earth Science, UoS), Nicholas Harmon (Ocean & Earth Science, UoS)

Surface bed layer dynamics: Modelling bed changes in estuaries
Dr Charlie Thompson, Dr Mark Vardy, I. Townend (CoastalSEA/OES) M. Knaapen (HR Wallingford)

Understanding sediment suspension in turbidity currents in order to predict behaviour and deposit character
Dr Esther Sumner, Dr Peter J Talling, Matthieu Cartigny

Using seismology to image magma generation and migration pathways beneath rift valley volcanoes in East Africa and Afar
Dr Derek Keir, Kate Rychert (Ocean & Earth Science, UoS)




Research Staff

Staff MemberPrimary Position
Matthew R AgiusResearch Fellow in Passive Seismology
Najeeb AladwaniPostgraduate research student
Charlotte Emily AldredPostgraduate research student (NERC CDT in Oil and Gas)
Joshua R AllinPostgraduate research student
Abd Muhaimin AmiruddinPostgraduate research student
Carl L AmosProfessor
Amelia AstleyPostgraduate research student
Eric AttiasPostgraduate research student
Rachael S AveryPostgraduate research student
Maria AzpirozPostgraduate research student
Andy BarkerSenior Tutor
Gaye BayrakciResearch Fellow in Geophysics
Jonathan BullProfessor in Geology and Geophysics
Chen ChenPostgraduate research student
Clementine ChirolPostgraduate research student
James CoussensPostgraduate research student
James DaveyPostgraduate research student
John DavisExperimental Officer
Richard Gareth DavyPostgraduate research student
Maria De La FuentePostgraduate research student
Haoyun DengPostgraduate research student
Justin DixAssociate Professor in Marine Geophysics
Adeline Marie DutrieuxPostgraduate research student
John EmeanaPostgraduate research student
Michael FaggetterPostgraduate research student
Ruth FarleyPostgraduate research student
David M FriesPostgraduate research student, Marie Curie Initial Training Network
Ryan J GallacherPostgraduate research student
Romina GehrmannResearch Fellow in Marine Electromagnetics
Thomas GernonAssociate Professor in Earth Science
Michael James GrantEnterprise Fellow in Marine Archaeology
Samuel J GriffithPostgraduate research student
Sophie HagePostgraduate research student
Nicholas HarmonLecturer in Geophysics
Tim HenstockProfessor of Geophysics
Tim HughesPostgraduate research student
Finnigan Illsley-KempPostgraduate research student
Pierre JossoPostgraduate research student
Hachem KassemTeaching Fellow in Coastal Morphodynamics and GIS
Derek KeirAssociate Professor in Geophysics
Jens C KrügerPostgraduate research student, Marie Curie Research Fellow
Aude LavayssierePostgraduate research student
Jessica Lawrence (Wujek)Postgraduate research student
Leigh MarshPostdoctoral Research Fellow
Lisa McNeillProfessor of Tectonics
Timothy A MinshullProfessor
Mohamad Anas Mohamad AnnuarPostgraduate research student
Alessandro MozzatoPostgraduate research student
Jennifer NealePostgraduate research student
Sebastian J PitmanPostgraduate research student
Ed PopePostgraduate research student
Daniel PosseePostgraduate research student
Giuseppe ProvenzanoPostgraduate research student
Catherine A RychertAssociate Professor in Geophysics
Sourav Kumar SahooPostgraduate research student
Melanie SiegburgPostgraduate research student
Esther SumnerLecturer in Sedimentology
Will SymonsPostgraduate research student
Saikiran TharimenaPostgraduate research student
Charlie ThompsonResearch Fellow
Matthew TruellPostgraduate research student
Tim Van PeerPostgraduate research student
Millie WattsPostgraduate research student
Alexander WebberPostdoctoral Research Fellow
Graham K WestbrookVisiting Professor
Kieran WestleyArchaeological GIS Technician
Bob WhitmarshEmeritus Professor
Chuang XuanLecturer
Xiaodong YangPostgraduate research student
Barbara ZihlmannPostgraduate research student

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