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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Prof Roger Clive Searle, BA (Cantab)1966 (MA 1970), PhD (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)1969

Personal web page

Emeritus Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42307
Room number: Geography Annex - Rm 009

Contact Prof Roger Clive Searle (email at


1966: BA, University of Cambridge (Natural Sciences Tripos, Part II Physics); MA, 1970
1969: Ph.D., University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Geophysics)
1970: Assistant Professor, Haile Sellassie I University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
1973: Senior Scientific Officer, Institute of Oceanographic Sciences
1978: Principal Scientific Officer, Institute of Oceanographic Sciences
1989: Senior Principal Scientific Officer (Grade 6 Individual Merit), Institute of Oceanographic Sciences
1989-2011: Professor of Geophysics, University of Durham

2011-present: Professor of Geophysics (Emeritus), University of Durham

Career Research Highlights

Roger Searle has an international reputation in the use of imaging sonars and other geophysical methods to understand tectonic and magmatic processes on the ocean floor, particularly at mid-ocean ridge spreading centres. His early work included the definition of plate boundaries to sub-kilometre resolution and determining the evolution of propagating rifts and oceanic microplates.He has studied the effects of mantle hot spots on plate accretion processes. Recently he has worked on the detailed tectonic patterns and volcanic systems of spreading centres, especially at Oceanic Core Complexes and ultra-slow spreading rates. Roger has published over 120 peer-reviewed articles and is a regular contributor to international conferences.

Committee and Society Service

1) 2003-2006: Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Site Survey Panel (Chairman, 2005-2006).
1) 2003-2007: UKIODP Steering Committee (NERC thematic programme).
2) 2003-2012: NERC Peer Review College.

Conferences and workshops

2003: Co-convenor, Session TS5.07 “High resolution imaging and sampling studies of young ocean floor”, EGS/AGU/EUG Assembly.
2005: Co-convenor,  Special Session GD06/TS13, “Mid-Ocean Ridges: Structure, Dynamics and Geochemistry”, EUG General Assembly.

2007: Co-convenor, Session T-19, "The Generation Of Oceanic Lithospheric in Areas of Low Effusive Magmatism: Where Has All The Crust Gone?”,  AGU Fall Meeting.

2008: Invited keynote talk, International Conference on “Tectonics of the Indian Subcontinent”, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.

2008: Invited participant, Magellan international workshop “ Marine research drilling in the Atlantic; Lithospheric heterogeneities, hydrothermal regimes, and links between abiotic and biotic processes at slow spreading ridges”, Montpellier

2010: Invited participant, AGU Chapman Conference “Detachments in Oceanic Lithosphere: Deformation, Magmatism, Fluid Flow, and Ecosystems”, Agros, Cyprus.

2010: Co-convenor, Session V-12a, "Building the oceanic crust", AGU Fall Meeting.

2011: Co-convenor, Session OS.07, "Fieldwork on the deep seafloor", AGU Fall Meeting.

2012:  Invited presentation, International Workshop “Unlocking the opening processes of the South China Sea”, Tongji University, Shanghai

Editorial Roles

External Appointments

1) July - December 2003: Senior visiting scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts.
2) November 2004 - January 2005: Invited member, Shipboard scientific party, IODP expedition 304-5.
3) Feb 2005 – Jan 2009: Elected Adjunct Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Invited Keynotes

1) September 2002: "The Rheology and Morphology of the Oceanic Lithosphere", First InterRidge Theoretical Institute, Pavia, Italy.
2) September 2003: "Morphology of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near the Iceland Hotspot", InterRidge Symposium and Workshop "Ridge-hotspot interaction", Brest, France.
3) October 2003: "The Early Evolution of Mid-Atlantic Ridge lithosphere", InterRidge Workshop, "Opportunities and Contributions of Asian Countries to the InterRidge Next Decade Initiative", Beijing.
4) 2003-2011: Invited seminars at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Columbia U., NY), Scripps Institution of Oceanogrphy (U. California San Diego), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts (x3), U. Rhode Island, U. New Hampshire, U. Cambridge, U. Edinburgh, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, Open University.

2008: Invited keynote talk, International Conference on “Tectonics of the Indian Subcontinent”, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.

2012: Invited presentation, International Workshop “Unlocking the opening processes of the South China Sea”, Tongji University, Shanghai

2012: Invited talk, AGU Fall Meeting. 

Prizes & Awards

2003: Leverhulme Study Abroad Fellowship.

2011: Royal Astronomical Society, Price Medal.

2012; Fellow of the American Geophysical Union 

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2012: : Elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
  • 2011: : Awarded Price Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society

Research Interests

  • 1. Tectonic and volcanic processes at mid-ocean ridges: faulting patterns, quantification of tectonic strain, structure and origin of oceanic core complexes, nature and timing of ridge volcanism, effects of spreading rate, ridge-hotspot interactions
  • 2. Plate kinematics and microplates: precise determination of plate boundaries; structure and evolution of propagating rifts; structure and evolution of microplates and triple junctions; mid-plate tectonism and volcanism.
  • 3. Marine geophysics (sidescan sonar, topographic analysis, gravity and magnetic methods)

Teaching Areas

  • Frontiers in Earth Sciences (seminar class - year 4)

    (4 hours/year.)

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Searle, R. (2009). Holes in the Crust. Planet Earth (Autumn 2009): 28-29.

Show all publications