Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering




+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? 


  • 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



Nixon CW, McNeill LC, Bull JM, et al., Rapid spatio-temporal variations in rift structure during development of the Corinth Rift, central Greece, Tectonics, ISSN:1944-9194

Duffy OB, Nixon CW, Bell RE, et al., 2017, The topology of evolving rift fault networks: Single-phase vs multi-phase rifts, Journal of Structural Geology, Vol:96, ISSN:0191-8141, Pages:192-202

Magee C, Duffy OB, Purnell K, et al., 2016, Fault-controlled fluid flow inferred from hydrothermal vents imaged in 3D seismic reflection data, offshore NW Australia, Basin Research, Vol:28, ISSN:0950-091X, Pages:299-318

Phillips TB, Jackson CA-L, Bell RE, et al., 2016, Reactivation of intrabasement structures during rifting: A case study from offshore southern Norway, Journal of Structural Geology, Vol:91, ISSN:0191-8141, Pages:54-73


Jackson CA-L, Bell RE, Rotevatn A, et al., Techniques to determine the kinematics of synsedimentary normal faults and implications for fault growth models, Geometry and Growth of Normal Faults

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