Imperial College London

Dr Philippa J Mason

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Senior Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 6528p.j.mason Website




1.41Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus




Research activities and interests

My research interests are broad and include the InSAR, planetary geoscience, spectral geology, tectonic geomorphology, geohazards and the application of remote sensing and data science/machine learning to a variety of geoscientific fields.

I am a member of the newly formed Geohazards Research Group here in ESE, and of the Engineering Scale Geology Research Group ESGRG, an interdepartmental group focused on small scale geological problems affecting civil engineering activities.

I have been a member of the EnVision mission proposal team since 2010, and now that the mission has been selected, am an appointed member of the ESA Science Study Team in supporting the EnVision mission science and instrument development up to mission adoption in 2024. EnVision is an ESA/NASA funded M5 mission for the exploration and mapping of the planet Venus, which will use Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), SubSurface Radar Sounding and multispectral NIR imaging of emissivity, similar to instruments which we use routinely on Earth, to better understand the tectonic, surface and internal structure of Venus, and thereby to better understand its history as a planet seemingly inhospitable to life, as well as to detect current geological activity. The instrument payload also includes UV and IR spectrometers aimed at exploring Venus' atmosphere, clouds and climate, as well as a Radio Science Experiment, to better understand the interior structure of the planet. Hence EnVision will investigate Venus form the cloud tops down to the core!

My Earth-bound research is focused mainly on the development and application of InSAR techniques to the understanding of small scale ground deformation. I have research students working on the development and application of persistent scatter InSAR techniques to measure and monitor small scale ground movements in natural and man-made environments; also in the use of remote sensing and cosmogenic nuclides to reconstruct ice retreat history in Antarctica; and in the use of machine learning to extract bathymetric information from Earth Observation data.

Recent highlights have included work on fluvial morphology and river dynamics, as well as revealing large scale groundwater depletion in NW India. Previously, on the correlation of spectroscopy and geochemistry in propyllitic mineral assemblages (dark green rocks!) to develop exploration tools.


Richard Haslam, British Geological Survey, The structure and geology of south-east England, 2015

Research Student Supervision

Bischoff,C, Investigating ground movement and its causes in London, UK, using Permanent Scatterer Interferometry

Wan,X, Vision based UAV navigation based on illumination-invariant image matching

Wu,M-C, Modelling of Yingxiu-Beichuan fault zone based on refined DInSAR data of 2008 Wenchuan earthquake