How to join us
I welcome enquiries from prospective graduate students and postdocs. Studentships and postdocs tend to be funded through specific grants in the UK, so these will be advertised here whenever they get approved for funding.
Students with an excellent academic record (1st class undergraduate and a distinction in a relevant Masters level course) might be eligible for an Imperial College PhD studentship. Contact me if you would like to develop a project.
I welcome enquiries from overseas students or postdoc who have identified potential funding routes.
Current postdocs interested in applying for independent research fellowships are encouraged to contact me if you are interested in conducting geophysical research at Imperial. We have had several successful fellowship applications in recent years and I would be happy to help in putting together a competitive application. Research fellowships typically require an outstanding publication record or other evidence of scientific potential.
Marine geology and geophysics: controlled source reflection and refraction seismology; coastal and ocean mapping with sidescan sonar and multibeam bathymetry.
Mantle plumes and continental breakup
A key question in the study of volcanic continental margins is whether their temporal-spatial pattern of magmatism is caused by mantle plumes (temperature and/or mantle composition anomalies) or by enhanced mantle flow. By developing a finite element model to account for mantle melting during breakup, we were able to show that, provided factors such as rift history are considered, thermal mantle plumes can explain the amount and properties of magmatism observed long the margins of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. I am currently collaborating with industry (ION-GX) to use specialist data to further test these ideas and gauge their implications for hydrocarbon reserves.
The solid Earth water cycle
Subduction zones are the locations of the largest exchange of material from the surface to the deep Earth. However, currently we have little information on the passage of volatiles through this system, and have been unable to attempt any form of mass balance to estimate how much of it enters the deep interior. Over the past 18 months, we have been collecting field data in the Caribbean, with a year-long broad-band ocean-bottom seismic array, an active source experiment with 150 ocean-bottom seismometer deployments, and installation of seismometers along the island arc. My team will conduct a joint inversion of these data for velocity and attenuation structure, with the aim of establishing whether the along-strike pattern of water within the incoming plate controls the melting that forms the volcanic island arc. The results will be verified by considering how any spatial patterns would map into basalt chemistry.
Island Britain or “Brexit 1.0”
For much of our pre-history, a permanent land bridge existed between England and France at the Dover Strait. How or when it was removed, however, was until recently unknown. Following a grant for a suite of high-resolution sonar, I conducted the first ever multi-beam bathymetric survey of the UK continental shelf, which led to the discovery of a megaflood landscape carved into the floor of the English Channel. This feature could only be formed by a catastrophic failure of the rock ridge, resulting in the sudden isolation of Britain from continental Europe. This dramatic event significantly altered the pattern of human colonisation of Britain.
For further information on these and other projects see:
I am a member of the Geodynamics: Core to Surface research group
I am former President of the British Geophysical Society (2015-18)
- Professor, Imperial College London, 2018-date
- Reader, Imperial College London, 2010-18
- Senior lecturer, Imperial College London 2002-10
- Lecturer, Imperial College London 1998-02
- NERC Fellow, University of Cambridge 1996-98
- Lecturer, University of Leeds 1995-96
- Post-doctoral researcher, University of Oxford 1990-94
- PhD, University of Cambridge 1986-89
- MSc, University of Durham 1985-86
Lonergan L, Collier JC, McDermott C, Characterization of seaward-dipping reflectors along the S. American Atlantic margin and implications for continental breakup, Tectonics, ISSN:0278-7407
et al., 2018, Spatial variability of the Purbeck-Wight Fault Zone-a long-lived tectonic element in the southern UK, Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, Vol:129, ISSN:0016-7878, Pages:436-451
et al., 2018, 30 Years in the Life of an Active Submarine Volcano: A Time-Lapse Bathymetry Study of the Kick-'em-Jenny Volcano, Lesser Antilles, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, Vol:19, ISSN:1525-2027, Pages:715-731
et al., 2017, Two-stage opening of the Dover Strait and the origin of island Britain, Nature Communications, Vol:8, ISSN:2041-1723
Collier J, 2017, A megaflood in the English Channel, Astronomy and Geophysics, Vol:58, ISSN:1366-8781, Pages:2.38-2.42