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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Dr Nicola De Paola

Associate Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences
Member of the Durham X-ray Centre

Contact Dr Nicola De Paola (email at


2012 – present — Senior Lecturer in Structural Geology and Rock Mechanics, University of Durham, Manager of the Rock Mechanics Laboratory

2007 – 2012 — Lecturer in Structural Geology, University of Durham

2005 – 2007 — Post-doctoral position, GSG (Geologia Strutturale e Geofisica), Earth Science Department, University of Perugia

2005 — PhD Structural Geology, University of Durham University

2000 — Geology Degree (110/110, first class), University of Perugia (Italy).

Research Interests

DR. NICOLA DE PAOLA studies the structure, mechanics and transport properties of exhumed, active fault zones, by combining field, microstructural and rock mechanics experimental datasets to understand earthquake processes in the upper crust. He has recently established and is currently managing the Rock Mechanics Laboratory, in the Earth Sciences Department. He currently supervises 3 PhD students as lead supervisor and 5 PhD students as co-supervisor. 

Recent work has focused on the evolution of fault strength during earthquake propagation. Recent research collaborations with world leading rock mechanics experimentalists, include Dr. Dan Faulkner (Rock Deformation Laboratory, University of Liverpool), Prof. Toshi Shimamoto (China Earthquake Institute, Bejing), Prof. Giulio Di Toro (University of Manchester), Prof. Cristiano Collettini (INGV/Universita’ La Sapienza, Roma) and Dr. Takehiro Hirose (Deformation Laboratory, JAMSTEC, Kochi Core Centre).

Since May 2005, Nicola has published 24 articles in International Peer Reviewed Journals. At March 2017, Nicola’s papers have been cited 702 [970] times, with an average number of citations per paper = 30.52 [40.4]. His h-index is 15 [16]. Source: Web of Science and [Google Scholar – My Citations].

Recent and Current Grants

2015  CREEP: Complex RhEologies in Earth dynamics and industrial processes (£170519.92 from European Commission, Durham PI)

2015  NERC Capital Equipment Grant (HiFAST): High frequency acquisition system for the dynamic measurement of stress, strain and friction in laboratory-produced earthquakes (£173000.00 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council, Co-I)

2014 & 2015  Two Oil and Gas CDT PhD Studentships (£184000 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council, PI)

2014  Iapetus Consortium DTP PhD studentship (£81000 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council, Co-I) 

2013  Oil Industry Capital Equipment funding (£155000 from DONG, PI)

2012  Clair Sponsored Studentship (£140000.00 from BP Exploration Operating Company Ltd, Co-I)

2011  NERC Standard Grant: Fault lubrication during earthquale propagation in thermally unstable rocks (£566830 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council, PI)

2011  NERC PhD studnetship (£81000 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council, PI) 

2008  Oil Industry funded PhD studnetship (£79000.00 from Maersk Oil & Gas AS, PI)

Recent Invited Keynotes and Conferences

Invited Keynotes:

2016 – Geological Society of Italy (Societa’ Geologica Italiana) Annual Meeting: “Earthquakes and active tectonics: a multidisciplinary approach”, Naples (September, 2016).

2016 – Royal Society, Theo Murphy International Satellite Meeting: “Faulting, friction and weakening: from slow to fast motion (UK)”, London (April, 2016).

2015 – University of Utrecht, International rock mechanics workshop: “Modeling Fault Friction", Utrecht (September, 2015)

2015 – European Geosciences Union (EGU) Annual Meeting: “Fractures, mechanics and flow in tight reservoirs”, Vienna (April, 2015).

2014 – American Geophysical Union, (AGU) Fall Meeting: “Physical properties of earth materials: evolving rock structure”, San Francisco (December, 2014).

2012 – European Geosciences Union (EGU) Annual Meeting: “Thermo-mechanical coupling and physical properties of rocks: implications to natural hazards”, Vienna (April, 2012).

2010 – Geomechanics Workshop, University of Padova (Italy).

2010 – Gordon Research Conference: Rock Deformation, Tilton School (USA);

2010 – International Workshop: "Modern Trends in Geomechanics II", Stanford University, (USA).

2005 – Geological Association of Canada, GAC, Halifax (Canada).

2005 – Geological Society of America, GSA, Utah (USA).


Convened 2 sessions at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, held in San Francisco (US) (2008, 2015).

Convened 3 sessions at the European Geosciences Union (EGU), General Assembly held in Vienna, Austria (2011, 2012, 2013).

Prizes, Awards and Indicators of esteem

2005 – RAMSAY MEDAL, UK Tectonic Studies Group, awarded for the best published paper by a postgraduate student in 2005.

2005  YOUNG AUTHOR’S AWARD, Journal of the Geological Society of London, awarded for the best paper by a researcher under the age of 30 that was published in the Journal of the Geological Society of London in 2005.

2005  FEARNSIDES PRIZE, Yorkshire Geological Society, awarded for excellence in published research, on basin inversion carried out by an individual under the age of 30.

2005 - Present – Acting peer reviewer for leading international journals including Science, Nature Geoscience, Nature Communications, Earth and Planetary Sciences Letters, Geology, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Geophysical Research, Journal of Structural Geology, Tectonophysics, Geofluids, Journal of the Geological Society of London, Terra Nova.

PhD Students Prizes:

2015 – Best postgraduate student talk to Dr. Rachael Bullock. Tectonics Studies Group (TSG) Annual Meeting, Edinburgh. 

2014 – Outstanding Student Paper Award – Tectonophysics awarded for oral contribution “Earthquake rupture in shallow, unconsolidated sediments” to Dr. Rachael Bullock. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting (AGU).

Membership of Organisations and Societies

American Geophysical Union (AGU) member

European Geosciences Union (EGU) member

Tectonic Studies Group (TSG) member

Committee and Society Service

2009 – 2012 — Secretary of the Tectonic Studies Group (TSG). 

Research Groups

Research Interests


Selected Publications

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Show all publications