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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton
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Dr Stephen P Hicks MESci, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Passive Source Seismology

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Dr Stephen Hicks is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Passive Source Seismology within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.

2015-2017 Global Client Relationship Manager, Güralp Systems Ltd
2011-2015 PhD (Earth Sciences), University of Liverpool
2009 United States Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center, Denver, Colorado

Stephen’s main research interests are focused on unravelling what happens when two titanic tectonic plates collide at a subduction zone. These plate boundaries have helped to give us life, but they have the power to take it away during damaging earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Stephen uses recordings of seismic waves from earthquakes to probe the complex 3-D subsurface in subduction zones and to understand the mechanics of large megathrust ruptures.

Prior to starting at Southampton, Stephen had a commercial role as a Global Client Relationship Manager at Güralp Systems Ltd, where his main role is to work with clients on large, complex projects such as ocean bottom seismometer observatories. He also led the launch of new state-of-the-art seismic hardware and worked to develop systems for earthquake early warning.

Stephen completed his PhD in Earthquake Seismology at the University of Liverpool, UK. His PhD thesis revealed how the ancient geological structure beneath the South America can still drive the rupture characteristics of modern-day large earthquakes. With co-authors, he also showed how possible ‘doublet’ earthquakes may be hidden from global monitoring networks. This finding may help to optimise tsunami warning systems in the future. From his PhD thesis, he published four papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals, including one article in Nature Geoscience.

In 2009, Stephen spent a summer working at United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC). He also has experience in seismometer deployments and fieldwork across the globe.

Stephen blogs on popular earth science topics and he is available for media work.





Research interests


- 3-D imaging of subduction plate boundaries using seismic waves

- Simulating complex seismic wave phenomena in 3-D media using high-performance computing clusters

- Probing the relationship between ancient geological structures and modern-day large earthquake ruptures

- Earthquake rupture mechanics

- Earthquake early warning systems

- Induced seismicity and microseismic monitoring

Research project:

VOILA project (Volatiles in the Lesser Antilles)

Research group

Geology and Geophysics

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In the media

Stephen is a keen science blogger and is available for a wide range of media work.

Popular science news articles and blog posts written by Stephen

The Guardian (Feb 2017): The bangs, crackles and hums of Earth's seismic orchestra

EGU Blogs (April 2014). A Forseeable, Yet Surprising Earthquake- Guest Blog Post

EGU Blogs (February 2014). Seismologists Must Leave Their Comfort Zone – Guest Blog Post.

Television and radio coverage

BBC Radio 5 Live (October 2016): On the Italy earthquake sequence

BBC Radio Manchester (May 2015): Nepal earthquake – audio

BBC Newsround (May 2015): Nepal earthquake – video.

BBC Newsround (January 2015): East Midlands earthquake in Oakham was 3.8 magnitude – video.

Print and online media coverage

Mail Online (November 2015): Is the world at risk from HIDDEN earthquakes? 'Doublet' quakes are difficult to detect and can produce larger, more devastating tsunamis

EurekAlert (November 2015): Discovery of hidden earthquake presents challenge to earthquake early-warning systems

BBC News (May 2015): Quake heightens Nepal landslide concern.

Washington Post (May 2015): Kathmandu rose three feet but Mt. Everest dropped by an inch in quake

BBC website (April 2015): How to predict an earthquake (clue, you can’t).

LiveScience / Yahoo Science (November 2014). Seismic Speedbumps found in Chile’s earthquake zone. (November 2014). Study of Chile earthquake finds new rock structure that affects earthquake rupture.

University of Liverpool (October 2014). Postcard: Stephen Hicks on the Pacific Ocean.

University of Liverpool (May 2012). Becoming an Expert: Stephen Hicks in Chile.

Dr Stephen P Hicks
Ocean and Earth Science
National Oceanography Centre Southampton
University of Southampton Waterfront Campus
European Way
Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK

Room Number: NOCS/786/14/N1

Dr Stephen P Hicks's personal home page
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