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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton
(023) 8059 6491

Professor Tim Henstock MA, PhD

Professor of Geophysics

Professor Tim Henstock's photo

Professor Tim Henstock is Professor of Geophysics within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.

Geophysics uses physics to study the Earth. While we can see what is at the surface, we often want to know what is underneath; equally we may know things about the Earth now, but we want to know how it has got this way. Geophysics is one of the main ways to address these questions. We can do this by using fundamental principles of physics to build mathematical models of processes within the Earth, or by using physical measurements (such as seismic waves, gravity, or temperature) to determine the properties and state of the Earth.

I am unusual in that I work in both of these areas, building models as well as making the observations that motivate the models and can be used to test them. I am also unusual since I have worked across a wide range of length and time scales, from a few cm and hours up to 100s of km and billions of years.

Senior Lecturer, Lecturer, Reader, Professor, University of Southampton 1999-present
Lecturer, University of Southampton, 1999-2004
Lecturer, Rice University, 1998-1999
Research Associate, Rice University, 1994-1999
NERC Research Fellow, University of Oxford, 1993-1994
PhD Geophysics, University of Cambridge, 1994
BA Natural Sciences (Physics and Theoretical Physics), University of Cambridge, 1990 (MA 1994)

Research interests

Specialism: Geophysics and seismology

I have developed a personal research portfolio that is distinctive in its breadth, covering a range of different methods (e.g., physical modelling, seismology, potential fields) applied to many different problems (e.g., mid-ocean ridges where new oceanic lithosphere starts to form, subduction zones where it is recycled into the mantle, continental tectonics, lithospheric deformation). I work with PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and academics in Southampton and elsewhere, with overlapping sets of interests.

I have worked on instrument development (e.g., the 3D Chirp sub-bottom profiler) and ways to maximise the usefulness of high-resolution seismic data, as well as studying specific locations around the world. I am currently working on data we collected during a consortium project to study what controls earthquakes in the subduction zone offshore Sumatra, a new major project to study the deep effects of water in the Antilles subduction zone, and high-resolution data collected from several locations to study both natural and man-made processes that happen in the shallowest 50m of the earth.

The most recent physical system that I have started to explore is the environment around subsea high-voltage cables, which operate at very high temperatures immediately beneath the seabed. We are using a combination of numerical and analogue modelling and direct observations to constrain the interactions between the cables and their environments.

Research group

Geology and Geophysics

Research project(s)

Sumatran Earthquake Segment Boundaries Consortium

Environmental Controls on the State of HV Cables under the Seafloor

Mapping physical properties using reflection coefficients, a global approach

Segmentation, fault structure and tsunamigenesis of the Sumatran Subduction Zone

Impact of seabed properties on the ampacity and reliability of cables

Landslides glide plane mechanics using seismic reflection data and numerical modelling

Structure, fluid flow and earthquake potential of the Makran Subduction Zone, Pakistan

3D Chirp - Decimetre resolution sub-bottom profiling

Geological storage of CO2 into oceanic crust

Active-source seismic refraction across the Sumatra subduction zone


Machine Learning for Optimal Unexploded Ordnance Mitigation

Optimising the value of near-surface seismic reflection data

Active Rift research: The Corinth Rift, Greece

Programme leader for Geophysics

Chair, NERC Ocean Bottom Instrument Facility

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Book Chapter



SOES1003 IT communication, field and laboratory skills – contribute
-Geophysics research training
SOES3029-Seafloor surveying 1- course leader
Independent research project (Geophysics) – course leader
SOES6001 Contemporary topics - contribute
SOES6004-Applied and marine geophysics- contribute
SOES6024-Seafloor Surveying 2- contribute
SOES6030 MSci advanced independent research – course leader for Geophysics

Professor Tim Henstock
Ocean and Earth Science
National Oceanography Centre Southampton
University of Southampton Waterfront Campus
European Way
Southampton SO14 3ZH

Room Number : NOCS/786/03

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