Imperial College London

Prof Jenny Collier

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Professor of Marine Geophysics



+44 (0)20 7594 6443jenny.collier CV




4.46Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





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.

Research interests:

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.

Magmatism and breakup in the South Atlantic

Beyond hotspots: magmatism at rifted margins

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.

Volatile recycling at the Lesser Antilles Arc (VOILA)

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.

How Britain became an Island (Imperial College Festival Talk - video)

Island Britain: acoustic imaging of a catastrophic flood terrain on the floor of the English Channel

For further information on these and other projects see:  

Formation and evolution of continental shelves, passive margins, ocean basins and ocean islands.

Environmental geophysics, marine processes and physical properties of the seabed.  

About Me:

I am a member of the Geodynamics: Core to Surface research group  

See here for my Google Scholar profile, here for my ReserachGate profile...and here @geophysicsjenny for twitter!

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



Bie L, Rietbrock A, Hicks S, et al., 2019, Along‐Arc Heterogeneity in Local Seismicity across the Lesser Antilles Subduction Zone from a Dense Ocean‐Bottom Seismometer Network, Seismological Research Letters, ISSN:0895-0695

Harmon N, Rychert C, Collier J, et al., 2019, Mapping geologic features onto subducted slabs, Geophysical Journal International, Vol:219, ISSN:0956-540X, Pages:725-733

Allen R, Collier J, Stewart A, et al., 2019, The role of arc migration in the development of the Lesser Antilles: a new tectonic model for the Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Caribbean, Geology, Vol:47, ISSN:0091-7613, Pages:891-895

McDermott C, Collier JS, Lonergan L, et al., 2019, Seismic velocity structure of seaward-dipping reflectors on the South American continental margin, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol:521, ISSN:0012-821X, Pages:14-24


Lonergan L, Collier J, McDermott C, et al., 2019, Seismic velocity structure of two types of seaward-dipping reflectors on the South American continental margin

More Publications