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.

Coastal Laboratories

The geology and geophysics research group operates three labs focusing on the study of coastal and shelf sea hydrodynamics and sediment dynamics. Our Coastal Processes and the Coastal Dynamics labs host a range of straight, recirculating and annular flumes equipped with a variety of high-frequency instruments and sensors, and are used for teaching and research into boundary layers, sediment transport and scour, submarine gravity flows and flow/sediment interactions with biota. The Sediment Analysis Lab is equipped with a range of tools used to analyse cohesive and non-cohesive sediment samples, including particle size distribution, grain texture and composition, and bulk sample properties; including a settling column and a Laser Sizer.


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 programmes 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


Controlled source electromagnetics to study potential fluid flow pathways associated with carbon capture and storage sites
Dr Romina Gehrmann, Prof Tim Minshull, Prof Jonathan M Bull.

Coupled geophysical, geomechanical and geochemical monitoring and modelling of carbon capture and storage (CCS) reservoirs
Dr Ismael Falcon-Suarez, Dr Anna Lichtschlag, Dr Juerg Matter, Dr Angus Best.

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

Direct measurements of destructive flows in Monterey Submarine Canyon, California
Dr Esther Sumner, Mike Clare, Matthieu Cartigny, Peter Talling (Univ. Durham) and Charles Paull (MBARI).

From little flows to large landslides – the first field-scale test of frequency-magnitude relationships for turbidity currents
Mike Clare, Dr Ivan Haigh, Matthieu Cartigny, Dr Mark Vardy.

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

How faults interact within active rift zones (East Africa, Central Greece) at ultra high resolution
Professor Lisa McNeill, Dr Derek Keir, Prof Jonathan M Bull, Casey Nixon (University of Bergen, Norway).

Joint model of elastic and electrical properties of seafloor methane gas hydrates
Dr Angus Best, Héctor Marín Moreno, Dr Laurence North, Umberta Tinivella (OGS) and Michela Giustiniani (OGS) .

Ocean floors in the lab: Sediment rheology
Dr Esther Sumner, Lead Supervisor - Ivo Peters (Engineering & the Environment Co-I: Esther Sumner (OES; 50%).

Seismically Imaging the tectonic plate
Dr Kate Rychert, Dr Nicholas Harmon, Michael Kendall (University of Bristol).

Understanding sediment suspension in turbulent geophysical flows using refractive index matched experiments
Dr Esther Sumner, Lead Supervisor: Dr Christina Vanderwel (Engineering & the Environment, UoS).


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)

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


Bayesian inversion of controlled source electromagnetic data for a laterally variable subsurface
Dr Romina Gehrmann, Prof Tim Minshull, Prof Stan E. Dosso (University of Victoria, BC, Canada).

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


Determining gas flux through the seabed using active and passive seismology and optical techniques
Prof Jonathan M Bull, Prof Timothy Leighton (Institute for Sound and Vibration Research), Prof Paul White (Institute for Sound and Vibration Research).


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 AmosEmeritus Professor
Eric AttiasPostgraduate research student
Rachael S AveryPostgraduate research student
Maria AzpirozPostgraduate research student
Andy BarkerSenior Tutor
Gaye BayrakciResearch Fellow in Geophysics
Bhargav BoddupalliPostgraduate research student
Jonathan BullProfessor in Geology and Geophysics
Ben CallowPostgraduate research student
Emma L ChambersPostgraduate research student
Chen ChenPostgraduate research student
Ben ChichesterPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
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 DixProfessor in Marine Geology & Geophysics
Adeline Marie DutrieuxPostgraduate research student
Amy L ElsonPostgraduate 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
Tim GreenfieldPostdoctoral Research Fellow
Samuel J GriffithPostgraduate research student
Sophie HagePostgraduate research student
Nicholas HarmonLecturer in Geophysics
Tim HenstockProfessor of Geophysics
Stephen P HicksPostdoctoral Research Fellow in Passive Source Seismology
Tim HughesPostgraduate research student
Finnigan Illsley-KempPostgraduate research student
Pierre JossoPostgraduate research student
Hachem KassemTeaching & Research 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 MarshVisiting Fellow
Lisa McNeillProfessor of Tectonics
Timothy A MinshullProfessor
Mohamad Anas Mohamad AnnuarPostgraduate research student
Vanessa MonteleonePostgraduate research student
Alessandro MozzatoPostgraduate research student
Jennifer NealePostgraduate research student
Sebastian J PitmanPostgraduate research student
Ed PopePostgraduate research student
Daniel PosseePostgraduate research student
David PricePostgraduate research student (NEXUSS)
Giuseppe ProvenzanoPostgraduate research student
David RileyPostgraduate research student
Catherine A RychertAssociate Professor in Geophysics
Sourav Kumar SahooPostgraduate research student
Ryan ScottPostgraduate research student (NEXUSS)
Melanie SiegburgPostgraduate research student
Iain StobbsPostgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)
Esther SumnerLecturer in Sedimentology
Will SymonsPostgraduate research student
Saikiran TharimenaResearch Fellow
Charlie ThompsonResearch Fellow
Matthew TruellPostgraduate research student
Tim Van PeerPostgraduate research student
Daniela VendettuoliPostgraduate research student
Millie WattsPostgraduate research student
Alexander WebberPostdoctoral Research Fellow
Martin WeeksOcean Bottom Instrument Engineer
Graham K WestbrookVisiting Professor
Bob WhitmarshEmeritus Professor
Chuang XuanLecturer
Xiaodong YangPostgraduate research student
Naiyu ZhangPostgraduate research student
Barbara ZihlmannPostgraduate research student

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