My research aims are to investigate the mechanics of the Earth's crust and ice sheets by studying the fundamental physics and mechanics of geological materials. The Earth's crust and ice sheets are the parts of the solid Earth with which humankind interact directly, and therefore of the greatest interest to me. I particularly do research directed towards studying the impacts of climate change and natural hazards.
The scientific methodology and approach I employ is that of experimental rock physics. This is a novel approach, which integrates the disciplines of rock mechanics with rock physical properties measurement. Laboratory experiments are important in the Earth Sciences, because it is only in the laboratory that environmental conditions can be independently, systematically varied and monitored. The measurement of physical parameters in the lab is not only important in the material science sense, but also because they are routinely monitored by geophysical techniques on a crustal scale. I work closely with colleagues modelling large-scale earth processes and am a member of the UCL Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling - CPOM and an associate member of the Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre
Principally I work in the Rock and Ice Physics Laboratory at UCL. The Laboratory's mission is to understand the evolution and dynamics of the Earth's ice sheets, crust and mantle through theoretical modelling and laboratory experiments on the mechanical and physical properties of minerals, rocks and ice. There are about 20 members of the Laboratory and we run seven experimental labs. We have a £2.5 million equipment base and are supported by over £2 million of current peer-reviewed funding. We design and build our own testing systems which we sell through the Laboratory's company, Rock Physics Systems Ltd.