The Imperial College Geodynamics: Core to Surface research group uses a combination of experimental observation, data visualisation and numerical modelling to study a wide range of problems in the solid Earth from the core to the surface.

The group currently numbers 10 staff, 8 post-doctoral researchers and 16 PhD Students. For more information on group members see People.

Current research themes include surface processes; the quaternary history of the NW European shelf; rifting of continental lithosphere and mantle plumes; subduction dynamics and the magnetic field.

We are one of the groups within the Earth & Planets section of the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London.

See here for this year's seminar programme.

Current Research Themes

surface processes

Surface Processes

Planetary surfaces responds to external forcing (climate) and internal forcing (tectonics) in the long-term evolution of its erosional and depositional landscapes, which are connected by sediment fluxes. Extraction from surface sediment fluxes builds the stratigraphy of sedimentary basins. Erosional and depositional areas are connected in the sediment routing system. The group are also involved in submarine mapping of landscapes, and in particular the inter-relationship between seabed sediment properties and benthic biology.

Projects within this theme include:

Continental sediment routing (Allen)

Deep-sea sediment routing (Lonergan)

Seabed habitat mapping (Collier)

nw shelf

Quaternary history of the NW European Shelf

The group has been using novel approaches to study the Quaternary glacial history of the North Sea, Dover Straits and English Channel. One of our research highlights has been to provide evidence for repeated advance and retreat of the northwest European ice sheets since the middle Pleistocene, and for the first time indicate that terrestrial ice-sheet advances in the North Sea can be matched in number with the cold events recorded in oceanic and/or ice-core proxies of climate change over the past 500 k.y. A second highlight has been discovery of the breaching of the Straits of Dover by catastrophic overspill of a lake in the southern North Sea from single and multibeam bathymetry data.

Projects within this theme include:

Ice sheet evolution: Application of 3D seismic (Lonergan)

Island Britain: application of shelf bathymetry (Collier, Gupta)

rifting and subduction

mantle plume

Rifting & mantle plume dynamics

The group have been involved in several international experiments to study continental rifting, both at active sites (East Africa) and at passive margins (conjugate Seychelles-Indian margins). These experiments have involved both passive and controlled source seismology. The group also studies the structure of mature continents and mantle plumes, through the inversion of seismic velocity to thermo-chemical properties. 

Projects within this theme include:

Continental break-up in the Indian Ocean (Collier, Hammond)

Magmatism and break-up in the South Atlantic (Collier, Lonergan)

Deep structure below East Africa (Bastow, Hammond, Goes)

Properties of continental lithosphere (Bastow, Goes)

Dynamical modelling of mantle plumes and comparison with seismic observations (Goes)


Subduction dynamics

The group has been involved in dynamic modelling as well as analysis of geophysical and geochemical observations to obtain a better understanding of subduction dynamics and its effect on the surface (plate motions, volcanism, earthquakes). The group are also actively involved in collecting observational data from subduction zones.

Projects within this theme include:

VoiLA: The group are involved in a major new project to study volatile recycling at the Antilles subduction zone.Imperial will lead a marine acquisition programme, numerical modelling of the mantle wedge and assessment of the metalogenesis implications. (Collier, Goes, Wilkinson) (see here)

Slab transition-zone interaction (Goes, D.R. Davies - ANU, J.H. Davies - Cardiff, J van Hunen - Durham)

Subduction mantle wedge dynamics and chemistry (Goes, Prytulak, D.R. Davies - ANU)

Effect of buoyant features on subduction dynamics (Goes, L. Fourel - IPG Paris)

the core, about the group

the core

The core and its magnetic field

The group runs a palaeomagnetic laboratory in which measurements are taken to address a range of topics relating to the Earth's core and its magnetic field. Topics of study include geomagnetic field variation, meteorites and dating cataclysmic events.

Further information (Muxworthy) 


About the group