We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Email and Telephone Directory

Staff Profile

Professor Alexander Densmore

Professor / Deputy Head of Department in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41879
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 233
Professor / Deputy Head of Department, Catchments and Rivers
Professor / Deputy Head of Department, Hazards and Surface Change

Contact Professor Alexander Densmore (email at


I'm interested in the way in which mountains are built through tectonic activity, and in the erosional processes that tear them back down again. The spark behind much of this work came from growing up on the tectonically-active west coast of North America. I received a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and held lectureships at Trinity College Dublin and ETH Zurich before joining Durham University in 2006. My current research projects include aspects of tectonic geomorphology in the western USA and southwestern China; efforts to understand sediment routing systems both in the field (northern India) and through numerical modelling; and work on the role of mass wasting - particularly landslides and debris flows - in shaping mountain belts like the Swiss Alps.

Research Groups

Department of Geography

Research Projects

Department of Geography

  • Community Earthquake Disaster Risk Reduction in China (CEDRRiC)

Department of Sociology

  • Earthquakes without frontiers: a partnership for increasing resilience to seismic hazard in the continents

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Ivy-Ochs, S., Duehnforth, M., Densmore, A.L. & Alfimov, V. (2013). Dating fan deposits with cosmogenic radionuclides. In Dating Torrential Processes on Fans and Cones. Schneuwly-Bollschweiler, M., Stoffel, M. & Rudolf-Miklau, F. Springer. 47: 243-263.
  • Ellis, M. A. & Densmore, A. L. (2006). First-order topography over blind thrusts. In Tectonics, Climate and Landscape Evolution. Willett, S., Hovius, N., Fisher, D. & Brandon, M. Boulder, Colorado: Geological Society of America. 398: 251-266.
  • Allen, P.A., Bennett, S.D., Cunningham, M.J.M., Carter, A., Gallagher, K., Lazzaretti, E., Galewsky, J., Densmore, A.L., Phillips, W.E.A., Naylor, D. & Solla Hach, C. (2002). The post-Variscan thermal and denudational history of Ireland. In Exhumation of the North Atlantic Margin: Timing, Mechanisms and Implications for Petroleum Exploration. Dor鬠A., Cartwright, J., Stoker, M., Turner, J. & White, N. Geological Society of London Special Publications. 196: 371-399.

Journal Article

Working Paper

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Tectonics: Earthquakes
  • Geological hazards: Earthquakes
  • The Earth: Rocks & natural forces: Earthquakes
  • Landscape systems: Landslides and debris flows
  • Geological hazards: Landslides and debris flows
  • The Earth: Rocks & natural forces: Landslides and debris flows


Selected Grants

  • 2021: RF150498 Preparedness and planning for the Mountain Hazard and Risk chain in Nepal: GCRF UKRI Multi-hazard and Systemic Risks, Natural Environmental Research Council, £1202819.21
  • 2017: Carbon export by erosion of the biosphere: the role of earthquake triggered landslides (£401021.00 from Natural Environmental Research Council)
  • 2017: Earthquake triggered landsliding in Nepal: NERC / DFID SHEAR
  • 2016: Review of the Nine Minimum Characteristics of A Disaster Resilient Community in Nepal (£76160.00 from Department for International Development)
  • 2014: Durham International Fellowships for research and Enterprise - DIFeREns (£23434.59 from European Commission)
  • 2012: Earthquakes without frontiers: a partnership for increasing resilience to seismic hazard in the continents (£658030.50 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
  • 2012: The structure and dynamics of groundwater systems in north-western India under past, present and future climates (£183558.80 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
  • 2010: Building rural resilience in seismically active regions (£22573.86 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
  • 2009: Rapid assessment of sediment dynamics on an active debris-flow fan (£27604.27 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
  • 2008: RIVER DYNAMICS AND HAZARD ASSESSMENT (£51007.76 from British Council)
  • 2008: SURFACE RUPTURE (£19632.44 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)