Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Reader in Tectonics



+44 (0)20 7594 0903rebecca.bell




2.37aRoyal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





Research Interests

I study tectonic evolution in a variety of settings using next generation controlled source seismic methods and drilling data. My research involves the interpretation of both deep and shallow 2D, 3D seismic and well data and the integration with potential field data to investigate structural evolution of the upper crust and the geometry of the lithosphere. My research aims to address two key societally and economically important questions: 

1) What controls how subduction plate boundary faults slip?

2) What are the key controls on rift development: Is breaking up hard to do? 

In Dec- Feb 2018 I am led the deployment of 200 seismometers in New Zealand to study slow slip events. Please follow our progress on our project website, blog and twitter (@NZ3D_FWI)

FULLY FUNDED Leverhulme PhD Scholarship available - What controls seismic behaviour at subduction zones? Resolving the physical properties of slowly slipping fault zones

Deadline 15th August 2019 - Project description

FULLY FUNDED Leverhulme Postdoctoral Research Associate position available - What controls seismic behaviour at subduction zones? Resolving the physical properties of slowly slipping fault zones

Deadline 22nd  August 2019 - Job advert


  • Lecturer in Geology and Geophysics, Imperial College London (2015 - present)
  • Research Lecturer, Imperial College London (2012 - 2015)
  • PDRA in Salt Tectonics, Imperial College London (Sept 2011 - Jan 2012)
  • PDRA in Basin Analysis, Imperial College London (2010 - 2012)
  • Active Source Seismologist, GNS Science, New Zealand (2008 - 2010)
  • PhD, Marine Geophysics, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, University of Southampton (2004 - 2008)
  • MEarth Sc, Earth Science, University of Oxford (2000 - 2004)

recent measures of esteem



2016 - IODP SEP panel member

2015 - EGU Programme Committee member

2015 - AGU Tectonophysics Executive Board member

2015 - Associate Editor of Basin Research

2015 - Geologists' Association council member

2015 - Invited Speaker - Geologists' Association Lecture Series, London UK

2014 - Member of the AAPG Wiki Advisory Boad

2014-  Keynote speaker - SeisMix conference, Barcelona, Spain

2014 - Guest Editor - Basin Research thematic set (Deep Water Continental Margins)

2014 - Visiting Research Scientist - GNS Science, New Zealand

2012 - 2017 - Imperial College Research Fellowship


Media and Outreach

Nuclear waste must be out of sight, but not out of mind. The Observer, 1st Nov 2014

Why seismologists have a mountain to climb. The Observer, 7th Sept 2014

My research has appeared in:

Interview for NTN24, Latin America (7th July 2014)

Nature World News (27th June 2014)

NDTV (29th June 2014)

Live Science (30th June 2014)

Aljazeera America (1st July 2014)

Yahoo News (1st July 2014)

Front page of the Imperial College website (30th June 2014)

The Dominion Post, New Zealand (3rd July 2014)

The Gisborne Herlald, New Zealand (4th July 2014)

The Gisborne Herald, New Zealand (3rd August 2011)

The Gisborne Herald, New Zealand (29th July 2011)

The Gisborne Herald, New Zealand (11th July 2011)

The Dominion Post, New Zealand (2nd August 2011)


Imperial College Festival lecture, 2015

Pint of Science, "Did the Earth move for you?". Hoop and Toy, South Kensington 2014

BG Group Earth Workshop, "ShakeUp! Why, where and how do earthquakes occur?", Imperial College 2013

Futureintech Ambassador, Wellington, New Zealand 2008 - 2010

NERC Planet Earth Magazine article, Breaking up is hard to do (Spring 2008)

Teaching Awards



Shortlisted for the award of Best Feedback 2015/2016 Student Academic Choice Awards (SACA), Imperial College London

Winner of the Best Feedback award at the 2012/2013 Student Academic Choice Awards (SACA), Imperial College London



El-Yamani MS, John CM, Bell R, 2024, Mechanism of island dolostones formation in the cretaceous calcitic ocean: Insights from the mid-pacific guyots, Marine and Petroleum Geology, ISSN:0264-8172, Pages:106741-106741

Wrona T, Pan I, Bell RE, et al., 2023, Complex fault system revealed by 3-D seismic reflection data with deep learning and fault network analysis, Solid Earth, Vol:14, ISSN:1869-9510, Pages:1181-1195

Pan S, Naliboff J, Bell R, et al., 2023, How Do Rift-Related Fault Network Distributions Evolve? Quantitative Comparisons Between Natural Fault Observations and 3D Numerical Models of Continental Extension, Tectonics, Vol:42, ISSN:0278-7407

Gase AC, Bangs NL, Saffer DM, et al., 2023, Subducting volcaniclastic-rich upper crust supplies fluids for shallow megathrust and slow slip, Science Advances, Vol:9, ISSN:2375-2548, Pages:1-14

Hao Y, Bell R, Rao Y, et al., 2023, Prediction of Permian karst reservoirs in the Yuanba gas field, northern Sichuan basin, China, Marine and Petroleum Geology, Vol:154, ISSN:0264-8172, Pages:1-12

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