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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.

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




PhD Project Titles

3D Modelling of Heat Dissipation from Offshore High Voltage Cables *

A Global Seismic Investigation of the Tectonic Plate

Assessing the integrity of carbon capture and storage (CCS) reservoirs by using a combined experimental and modelling approach

Automating the analysis of high-resolution sidescan sonar data to support marine habitat monitoring *

Bayesian inversion of controlled source electromagnetic data for a laterally variable subsurface

BEACHNUT: an active wireless sensor to measure granular dynamics of gravel transport

Caribbean Subduction: Seismic Imaging Melt and Volatiles in the Lesser Antilles

Characterising the volcanic and geochemical record of continental breakup in Afar

Characterising seabed surface layer dynamics: Modelling bed changes in estuaries

From deep hydrothermal structure to rock physic models of sulphide deposits at mid-ocean ridges with controlled source electromagnetic data

High-resolution seismic imaging of fluid escape structures in the North Sea *

Overpressure development in rapidly deposited salt basins. Application to the Salt Giant on the Mediterranean Basin

Rift fault activity and interaction at ultra high resolution, geophysical and drilling data analysis from Greece and East Africa

The Weakest Link: Triggering of giant submarine landslides

Understanding the causes of millennial scale geomagnetic change: A benchmark record and new global synthesis for late Pleistocene

Using autonomous underwater vehicles to monitor seafloor habitats and ecosystems in remote and developing regions

Using cluster analysis to quantify earthquake patterns in space and time globally

* signifies projects with additional CASE funding.

List of related projects to Geology and Geophysics
Related ProjectsStatus
iCOASST - integrating coastal sediment systemsActive
3D Chirp - Decimetre resolution sub-bottom profilingActive
Arctic Hydrate Dissociation as a Consequence of Climate Change: Determining the vulnerable methane reservoir and gas escape mechanismsActive
BLUE MINING: Breakthrough solutions for sustainable deep-sea mining value chainActive
Characterising Seismic Anisotrophy Beneath Ocean BasinsActive
Critical Metals in Porphyry Copper DepositsActive
Dynamics of gas hydrates in polar environmentsActive
ECO2 sub-seabed CO2 Storage: analysis of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle DataActive
Effects of Posidonia oceanica on sediment transport: implications for the protection of shorelinesActive
Fluid flow associated with the Alpine Fault, South Island, New ZealandActive
Geo-archaeology - New high-resolution 3D seismic imagingActive
Geological storage of CO2 into oceanic crustActive
Great Barrier Reef: How reef morphology and sea level affects wave transmissionActive
Igneous Reservoirs: Controls on Porosity and PermeabilityActive
Imaging continental breakup with ocean bottom seismic techniques: Galicia Bank continental marginActive
Impact of seabed properties on the ampacity and reliability of cablesActive
Improved mineral exploration and exploitation strategiesActive
The influence of reefs on coastal oceanography, erosion and recoveryActive
Landslides glide plane mechanics using seismic reflection data and numerical modellingActive
Structure, fluid flow and earthquake potential of the Makran Subduction Zone, PakistanActive
Overpressure Development in Deep Basins: Linking Measures and Models Active
Passive Imaging of the Lithosphere-Asthenosphere Boundary (PI-LAB)Active
Pb-Zn mineralisation within the Limerick Basin (SW Ireland): A role for volcanism?Active
Physical Properties of Oceanic Lower Crustal and Uppermost Mantle Rocks from Atlantis Massif, Mid-Atlantic Ridge Active
Quantifying and Monitoring Potential Ecosystem Impacts of Geological Carbon Storage (QICS)Active
The response of offshore Arctic methane hydrate to ocean warming during the next three centuriesActive
Rips and risk: An investigation of the hazard signatureActive
Sediment-water column exchange of nutrients in coastal and shelf-sea watersActive
Sediment transport pathways offshore between Poole and Christchurch BaysActive
Storms and Their Seismic Signals: Can seismometers be used to study oceans?Active
Structure and structural permeability of active rift systems, examples of the Kermadec Arc, SW Pacific and the Main Ethiopian Rift, EthiopiaActive
Sumatran Earthquake Segment Boundaries ConsortiumActive
Surge Watch: An interactive and multi-purpose database of coastal flooding events for the UKActive
Integration of CSEM and seismic data for mapping gas hydrates at CNE03Active
The Porcupine Basin ProjectActive
The Taphonomy of Historic Wreck SitesActive
Trans-Haiti: Crustal-scale geodynamics of the Hispaniola boundary in the CaribbeanActive
Venice lagoonActive
Vertical turbulence structures in the benthic boundary layer as related to suspended sedimentActive
Volcanic edifice collapse: processes, timing, and impact on volcano evolution Active
Windermere ResearchActive
Active fault kinematics during non-volcanic rifting in East AfricaDormant
Evolution of faulting and magmatism during volcanic rifting in the Ethiopian RiftDormant
Interaction between tectonic deformation and magmatism during volcanic rifting in AfarDormant
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