Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Research Associate



s.hicks Website




Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





Click on a section below to find out more about my different areas of research

Volatile imaging in the Lesser Antilles subduction zone

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I have been working as part of the NERC large grant-funded VoiLA (Volatiles in the Lesser Antilles project). Water plays an important role in the evolution of the Earth, the generation of large earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The water budget in and out of subduction zones around the Pacific Ocean has been well-studied in the past, but the subduction of the Atlantic is less well studied and may have different characteristics.

In 2017, we deployed 34 broadband ocean-bottom seismometer stations across the Eastern Caribbean, which were in operation for 14 months. We detected ~500 local earthquakes across the subduction zone which have been relocated accurately using the temporary network.

I am using these local earthquakes to produce 3-D images of seismic attenuation throughout the subduction zone. Seismic attenuation is sensitive to changes in temperature and fluid/melt content, so we can use these images to find out how water gets from the subducted Atlantic slab to the volcanic arc. 

Attenuation images

First image of seismic attenuation structure

Discriminating between induced and natural earthquakes

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Beginning in April 2018, a sequence of small earthquakes (maximum magnitude 3.0) occurred close to Gatwick Airport in southern England. The earthquakes occurred within 8 km of two oilfield development and production sites, which raised concerns amongst the public and national media that these earthquakes might have been induced.

I worked closely with the British Geological Survey to install five broadband seismic stations in the area to better constrain the location and depth of these earthquakes.

Surrey earthquakes map

Relocated seismicity map

With fellow academics, regulators, and operators, I attended a workshop hosted by the Oil and Gas Authority to discuss whether the Newdigate earthquakes were possibly induced. The overall conclusion was that these earthquakes were very unlikely to have been induced. I am leading a study on the source characteristics of the earthquakes and fault structure in the area to investigate the sequence in detail.

Publications: in progress.

Dr. Hicks describes a seismic monitoring site in Surrey