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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences

Geodynamics Research Group

Group Statement

The Geodynamics Group is a rapidly growing research group, investigating the dynamics of the Earth sub-surface through various forward modelling techniques. The Earth Science department in Durham has specific expertise in both numerical and analog modelling of global geodynamics(mantle convection and plate tectonics), earthquake dynamics, physical volcanology, avalanches and landslides, and porous media flow dynamics.

The group actively interacts and collaborates with members within the group, but also has clear active research links with many of the other research groups (geophysics, structural geology, volcanology, geochemistry and environmental geoscience). The group meets weekly in the geodynamics and geochemistry lunch meeting.


Academic Staff

Research Staff


Journal Article

  • Wang, Hongliang, van Hunen, Jeroen & Pearson, D. Graham (2018). Making Archean cratonic roots by lateral compression: A two-stage thickening and stabilization model. Tectonophysics 746: 562-571.
  • Issler, Dieter, Jenkins, James T. & McElwaine, Jim N. (2018). Comments on avalanche flow models based on the concept of random kinetic energy. Journal of Glaciology 64(243): 148-164.
  • Bray, Veronica J., Atwood-Stone, Corwin, Neish, Catherine D., Artemieva, Natalia A., McEwen, Alfred S. & McElwaine, Jim N. (2018). Lobate impact melt flows within the extended ejecta blanket of Pierazzo crater. Icarus 301: 26-36.
  • Gardner, James E., Wadsworth, Fabian B., Llewellin, Edward W., Watkins, James M. & Coumans, Jason P. (2018). Experimental sintering of ash at conduit conditions and implications for the longevity of tuffisites. Bulletin of Volcanology 80(3): 23.
  • Kaneko, Y., Carpenter, B. & Nielsen, S. (2017). Nucleation process of magnitude 2 repeating earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault predicted by rate-and-state fault models with SAFOD drill core data. Geophysical Research Letters 44(1): 162-173.
  • Wadsworth, Fabian B., Vasseur, Jérémie, Llewellin, Edward W., Genareau, Kimberly, Cimarelli, Corrado & Dingwell, Donald B. (2017). Size limits for rounding of volcanic ash particles heated by lightning. Journal of Geophysical Research - Solid Earth 122(3): 1977-1989.
  • Wadsworth, Fabian B., Vasseur, Jérémie, Llewellin, Edward W. & Dingwell, Donald B. (2017). Sintering of polydisperse viscous droplets. Physical Review E 95(3): 033114.
  • McIntosh, I.M., Nichols, A.R.L., Tani, K. & Llewellin, E.W. (2017). Accounting for the species-dependence of the 3500 cm-1 H2Ot infrared molar absorptivity coefficient: implications for hydrated volcanic glasses. American Mineralogist 102(8): 1677-1689.
  • Clarke, A.L., Imber, J., Davies, R.J., van Hunen, J., Daniels, S.E. & Yielding, G. (2017). Application of material balance methods to CO2 storage capacity estimation within selected depleted gas reservoirs. Petroleum Geoscience 23(3): 339-352.
  • Agrusta, Roberto, Goes, Saskia & van Hunen, Jeroen (2017). Subducting-slab transition-zone interaction: Stagnation, penetration and mode switches. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 464: 10-23.
  • Goes, Saskia, Agrusta, Robert, van Hunen, Jeroen & Garel, Fanny (2017). Subduction-transition zone interaction: A review. Geosphere 13(3): 644-664.
  • Rogers, T.M. & McElwaine, J. N. (2017). The hottest hot Jupiters may host Atmospheric Dynamos. Astrophysical Journal Letters 841(2): L26.
  • Mathias, S.A., Greenwell, H.C., Withers, C., Erdogan, A., McElwaine, J. & MacMinn, C. (2017). Analytical solution for clay plug swelling experiments. Applied Clay Science 149: 75-78.
  • Malone, David H., Craddock, John P., Schmitz, Mark D., Kenderes, Stuart, Kraushaar, Ben, Murphey, Caelan J., Nielsen, Stefan & Mitchell, Thomas M. (2017). Volcanic Initiation of the Eocene Heart Mountain Slide, Wyoming, USA. The Journal of Geology 125(4): 439-457.
  • Ardeshir Tanha, Mandana, Brennan, Paul V., Ash, Matthew, Kohler, Anselm & McElwaine, Jim (2017). Overlapped Phased Array Antenna for Avalanche Radar. IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation 65(8): 4017-4026.
  • Wadsworth, FB Vasseur, J, Llewellin, EW, Dobson, KJ, Colombier, M, von Aulock, FW, Fife, JL, Wiesmaier, S, Hess, K-U, Scheu, B, Lavallée, Y & Dingwell, DB (2017). Topological inversions in coalescing granular media control fluid-flow regimes. Physical Review E 96(3): 033113.
  • Nielsen, S. (2017). From slow to fast faulting: recent challenges in earthquake fault mechanics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 375(2103): 20160016.
  • Jones, T.J., Llewellin, E.W., Houghton, B.F., Brown, R.J. & Vye-Brown, C. (2017). Proximal lava drainage controls on basaltic fissure eruption dynamics. Bulletin of Volcanology 79(11): 81.
  • Freeburn, Rebecca, Bouilhol, Pierre, Maunder, Ben, Magni, Valentina & van Hunen, Jeroen (2017). Numerical models of the magmatic processes induced by slab breakoff. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 478: 203-213.
  • Rogers, T. M. & McElwaine, J. N. (2017). On the Chemical Mixing Induced by Internal Gravity Waves. The Astrophysical Journal Letters 848(1): L1.
  • Mc Keown, L. E., Bourke, M. C. & McElwaine, J. N. (2017). Experiments On Sublimating Carbon Dioxide Ice And Implications For Contemporary Surface Processes On Mars. Scientific Reports 7(1): 14181.
  • Dundas, Colin M., McEwen, Alfred S., Chojnacki, Matthew, Milazzo, Moses P., Byrne, Shane, McElwaine, Jim N. & Urso, Anna (2017). Granular flows at recurring slope lineae on Mars indicate a limited role for liquid water. Nature Geoscience 10: 903-907.
  • Polacci, M., de' Michieli Vitturi, M., Arzilli, F., Burton, M., Caricchi, L., Carr, B., Cerminara, M., Cimarelli, C., Clarke, A., Colucci, S., Costa, A., Degruyter, W., Druitt, T., Engwell, S., Esposti Ongaro, T., Giordano, D., Gurioli, L., Haddadi, B., Kendrick, J., Kueppers, U., Lamur, A., Lavallée, Y., LLewellin, E., Mader, H., Metrich, N., Montagna, C., Neri, A., Rivalta, E., Saccorotti, G., Sigmundsson, F., Spina, L. & Taddeucci, J. (2017). From magma ascent to ash generation: investigating volcanic conduit processes by integrating experiments, numerical modeling, and observations. Annals of Geophysics 60(6): S0666.
  • Vannucchi, Paola, Spagnuolo, Elena, Aretusini, Stefano, Di Toro, Giulio, Ujiie, Kohtaro, Tsutsumi, Akito & Nielsen, Stefan (2017). Past seismic slip-to-the-trench recorded in Central America megathrust. Nature Geoscience 10(12): 935-940.
  • Nielsen, S., Spagnuolo, E., Smith, S., Violay, M., Di Toro, G. & Bistacchi, A. (2016). Scaling in natural and laboratory earthquakes. Geophysical Research Letters 43(4): 1504-1510.
  • Condie, K.C., Aster, R.C. & van Hunen, J. (2016). A great thermal divergence in the mantle beginning 2.5 Ga: Geochemical constraints from greenstone basalts and komatiites. Geoscience Frontiers 7(4): 543-553.
  • Nielsen, S., Spagnuolo, E., Violay, M., Smith, S., Toro, G. & Bistacchi, A. (2016). G: Fracture energy, friction and dissipation in earthquakes. Journal of Seismology 20(4): 1187-1205.
  • Spagnuolo, E., Nielsen, S., Violay, M. & Di Toro, G. (2016). An empirically based steady state friction law and implications for fault stability. Geophysical Research Letters 43(7): 3263-3271.
  • Passelègue, François. X., Schubnel, Alexandre, Nielsen, Stefan, Bhat, Harsha S., Deldicque, Damien & Madariaga, Raùl (2016). Dynamic rupture processes inferred from laboratory microearthquakes. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 121(6): 4343-4365.
  • Wadsworth, Fabian B., Vasseur, J., Llewellin, E., Schauroth, J., Dobson, K.J., Scheu, B. & Dingwell, D. B (2016). Sintering of viscous droplets under surface tension. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science 472(2188): 20150780.
  • Maunder, B., van Hunen, J., Magni, M. & Bouilhol, P. (2016). Relamination of mafic subducting crust throughout Earth’s history. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 449: 206-216.
  • Reynolds, P., Brown, R.J., Thordarson, T. & Llewellin, E. (2016). The architecture and shallow conduits of Laki-type pyroclastic cones: insights into a basaltic fissure eruption. Bulletin of Volcanology 78(5): 36.
  • Kaneko, Y., Nielsen, S.B. & Carpenter, B.M. (2016). The onset of laboratory earthquakes explained by nucleating rupture on a rate-and-state fault. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 121(8): 6071-6091.
  • DeGiuli, E., McElwaine, J. N. & Wyart, M. (2016). Phase diagram for inertial granular flows. Physical Review E: covering statistical, nonlinear, biological, and soft matter physics 94(1): 012904.
  • Konopliv, N. A., Llewellyn-Smith, S. G., McElwaine, J. N. & Meiburg, E. (2016). Modelling gravity currents without an energy closure. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 789: 806-829.
  • DeGiuli, E. & McElwaine, J. N. (2016). Comment on “What Determines the Static Force Chains in Stressed Granular Media?”. Physical Review Letters 117(15): 159801.
  • Beeler, N.M., Di Toro, G. & Nielsen, S. (2016). Earthquake Source Properties from Pseudotachylite. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 106(6): 2764-2776.
  • Baldini L.M., Baldini J.U.L., McElwaine J., Frappier A.B., Asmerom Y., Liu K.B., Prufer K., Ridley H.E., Polyak V., Kennett D.J., Macpherson C.G., Aquino V.V., Awe J. & Breitenbach, S.F.M. (2016). Persistent northward North Atlantic tropical cyclone track migration over the past five centuries. Scientific Reports 6(1): 37522.
  • Köhler, A., McElwaine, J. N., Sovilla, B., Ash, M. & Brennan, P. (2016). The dynamics of surges in the 3 February 2015 avalanches in Vallée de la Sionne. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 121(11): 2192-2210.
  • Phethean, Jordan J.J., Kalnins, Lara M., van Hunen, Jeroen, Biffi, Paolo G., Davies, Richard J. & McCaffrey, Ken J.W. (2016). Madagascar’s escape from Africa: A high-resolution plate reconstruction for the Western Somali Basin and implications for supercontinent dispersal. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (G3) 17(12): 5036-5055.
  • Sagi, D.A., De Paola, N., McCaffrey, K.J.W. & Holdsworth, R.E. (2016). Fault and fracture patterns in low porosity chalk and their potential influence on sub-surface fluid flow—A case study from Flamborough Head, UK. Tectonophysics 690(A): 35-51.
  • Bruttoa, F, Muto, F, Loreto, M F De Paola, N, Tripodi, V, Critelli, S & Facchin, L (2016). The Neogene-Quaternary geodynamic evolution of the central Calabrian Arc: A case study from the western Catanzaro Trough basin. Journal of Geodynamics 102: 95-114.
  • Rodríguez-González, J., Billen, M. I., Negredo, A. M. & Montesi, L. G. J. (2016). Along-strike variation in subducting plate velocity induced by along-strike variation in overriding plate structure: Insights from 3D numerical models. Journal of Geodynamics 100: 175-183.
  • Bullock, R.J., De Paola, N. & Holdsworth, R.E. (2015). An experimental investigation into the role of phyllosilicate content on earthquake propagation during seismic slip in carbonate faults. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 120(5): 3187-3207.
  • Diniega, S., Hansen, C. J., McElwaine, J. N., Hugenholtz, C. H., Dundas, C. M. McEwen, A. S. & Bourke, M. C. (2013). A new dry hypothesis for the formation of martian linear gullies. Icarus 225(1): 526-537.
  • Vriend, N. M., McElwaine, J. N., Sovilla, B., Keylock, C. J., Ash, M. & Brennan, P. V. (2013). High Resolution Radar Measurements of Snow Avalanches. Geophysical Research Letters 40(4): 727-731.
  • Kowalski, Julia & McElwaine, Jim N. (2013). Shallow two-component gravity-driven flows with vertical variation. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 714: 434-462.
  • Violay, M. Nielsen, S. , Spagnuolo, E. Cinti, D. Di Toro, G. & Di Stefano, G. (2013). Pore fluid in experimental calcite-bearing faults: Abrupt weakening and geochemical signature of co-seismic processes. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 361: 74-84.
  • Passelègue, F.X. Schubnel, A., Nielsen, S., Bhat, H.S. & Madariaga, R. (2013). From Sub-Rayleigh to Supershear Ruptures During Stick-Slip Experiments on Crustal Rocks. Science 340(6137 ): 1208-1211
  • Smith, S., Di Toro, G., Kim, S., Ree, J.-H., Nielsen, S., Billi, A. & Spiess, R. (2013). Coseismic recrystallization during shallow earthquake slip. Geology 41(1): 63-66.
  • Del Bello, E., Llewellin, E.W., Taddeucci, J., Scarlato, P. & Lane, S.J. (2012). An analytical model for gas overpressure in slug-driven explosions: insights into Strombolian volcanic eruptions. Journal of Geophysical Research 117: B02206.
  • Holyoake, Alex J. & McElwaine, Jim N. (2012). High-speed granular chute flows. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 710: 35-71
  • De Paola, N, Hirose, T, Mitchell, T, Di Toro, G, Viti, C & Shimamoto, T (2011). Fault lubrication and earthquake propagation in thermally unstable rocks. Geology 39(1): 35-38.
  • van Hunen, J. & Allen, M.B. (2011). Continental collision and slab break-off: a comparison of 3-D numerical models with observations. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 302(1-2): 27-37.
  • Di Toro, G., Han, R., Hirose, T., De Paola, N., Nielsen, N., Mizoguchi, K., Ferri, F., Cocco, M. & Shimamoto, T. (2011). Fault lubrication during earthquakes. Nature 471(7339): 494-498.
  • Ballmer, M.D., Ito, G., van Hunen, J. & Tackley, P.J. (2011). Spatial and temporal variability in Hawaiian hotspot volcanism induced by small-scale convection. Nature Geoscience 4(7): 457-460.
  • De Paola, N., Chiodini, G., Hirose, T., Cardellini, C., Caliro, S. & Shimamoto, T. (2011). The geochemical signature caused by earthquake propagation in carbonate-hosted faults. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 310(3-4): 225-232.
  • Llewellin, E.W., Del Bello, E., Taddeucci, J., Scarlato, P. & Lane, S.J. (2011). The thickness of the falling film of liquid around a Taylor bubble. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 468(2140): 1041-1064.
  • Mueller, S, Llewellin, EW & Mader, HM (2010). The rheology of suspensions of solid particles. Proceedings Of The Royal Society A-mathematical Physical And Engineering Sciences 466(2116): 1201-1228.
  • De Paola, N., Faulkner, D. R. & Collettini, C. (2009). Brittle versus ductile deformation as the main control on the transport properties of low-porosity anhydrite rocks. Journal of Geophysical Research (Solid Earth) 114: B06211.
  • Nabovati, A, Llewellin, EW & Sousa, ACM (2009). A general model for the permeability of fibrous porous media based on fluid flow simulations using the lattice Boltzmann method. Composites Part A: Applied Science And Manufacturing 40(6-7): 860-869.
  • van Hunen, J. & van den Berg, A.P. (2008). Plate tectonics on the early Earth limitations imposed by strength and buoyancy of subducted lithosphere. Lithos 103(1-2): 217-235.
  • van Wijk, J., van Hunen, J. & Goes, S. (2008). Small-scale convection during continental rifting: Evidence from the Rio Grande rift. Geology 36(7): 575-578.
  • Nielsen, S. , Di Toro, G., Hirose, T. & Shimamoto, T. (2008). Frictional melt and seismic slip. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 113(B1): B01308.