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Department of Earth Sciences

Staff Profile

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

  • Searle, R (2013). Mid-Ocean Ridges. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter in book

  • Searle, R.C. & Escartin, J. (2004). The Rheology and Morphology of Oceanic Lithosphere and Mid-Ocean Ridges. In Mid-Ocean Ridges: Hydrothermal interactions between the lithosphere and oceans. German, C. R., Lin, J. & Parson, L.M. Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union. 148: 63-93.

Journal Article

  • Sauter, D, Cannat, M, Rouméjon, S, Andreani, M, Birot, D, Bronner, A, Brunelli, D, Carlut, J, Delacour, A, Guyader, V, MacLeod, C, Manatschal, G, Mendel, V, Ménez, B, Pasini, V, Ruellan, E & Searle, R (2013). Continuous exhumation of mantle-derived rocks at the Southwest Indian Ridge for 11 million years. Nature Geoscience 6(4): 314-320.
  • Yeo, I. A. & Searle, R. C. (2013). High-resolution Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) mapping of a slow-spreading ridge: Mid-Atlantic Ridge 45°N. Geochemistry geophysics geosystems 14(6): 1693-1702.
  • C Mallows & R C Searle (2012). A geophysical study of oceanic core complexes and surrounding terrain, Mid-Atlantic Ridge 13°-14°N. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
  • Bronner, A, Munschy, M, Sauter, D, Carlut, J, Searle, R & Maineult, A (2012). Deep-tow three component magnetic measurement, solutions for calibration and interpretation. Geophysics 78(3): 115-123.
  • Yeo, Isobel , Searle, Roger C. , Achenbach, Kay L., Le Bas, Tim P. & Murton, Bramley J. (2012). Eruptive hummocks building blocks of the upper ocean crust. Geology 40(1): 91-94.
  • Connelly, DP, Copley, JT, Murton, BJ, Stansfield, K, Tyler, PA, German, CR, Van Dover, CL, Amon, D, Furlong, M, Grindlay, N, Hayman, N, Huhnerbach, V, Judge, M, Le Bas, T, McPhail, S, Meier, A, Nakamura, K, Nye, V, Pebody, M, Pedersen, R, Plouviez, S, Sands, C, Searle, RC, Stevenson, P, Taws, S & Wilcox, S (2012). Hydrothermal vent fields and chemosynthetic biota on the world's deepest seafloor spreading centre. Nature Communications 3: 620.
  • Blackman, D.K., Ildefonse, B., John, B.E., Ohara, Y., Miller, D.J., N. Abe, M. Abratis, E.S. Andal, M. Andreani, S. Awaji, J.S. Beard, D. Brunelli, A.B. Charney, D.M. Christie, J. Collins, A.G. Delacour, H. Delius, M. Drouin, F. Einaudi, J. Escartín, B.R. Frost, G. Früh-Green, P.B. Fryer, J.S. Gee, M. Godard, C.B. Grimes, A. Halfpenny, H-E. Hansen, A.C. Harris, A. Tamura, N.W. Hayman, E. Hellebrand,, T. Hirose, J.G. Hirth, S. Ishimaru, K.T.M. Johnson, G.D. Karner, M. Linek, C.J. MacLeod,, J. Maeda, O.U. Mason, A.M. McCaig, K. Michibayashi, A. Morris, T. Nakagawa, T. Nozaka, M. Rosner, R.C. Searle, G. Suhr, M. Tominaga, A. von der Handt, T. Yamasaki, & X. Zhao (2011). Drilling constraints on lithospheric accretion and evolution at Atlantis Massif, Mid-Atlantic Ridge 30°N. Journal of Geophysical Research 116(B07103): 1-25.
  • Searle, R., Murton, B., Achenbach, K., LeBas, T., Tivey, M., Yeo, I., Cormier, M., Carlut, J., Ferreira, P., Mallows, C., Morris, K., Schroth, N., van Calsteren, P. & Waters, C. (2010). Structure and development of an Axial Volcanic Ridge: Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 45°N. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 299: 228-241.
  • Morris, A., Gee, J. S., Pressling, N., John, B. E., MacLeod, C. J., Grimes, C. B. & Searle, ER. C. (2009). Footwall rotation in an oceanic core complex quantified using reoriented Integrated Ocean Drilling Program core samples. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 28: 217-228.
  • MacLeod, C. J., Searle, R. C., Murton, B. J., Casey, J. F., Mallows, C., Unsworth, S. C., Achenbach, K. & Harris, M. (2009). Life cycle of oceanic core complexes. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 287(3-4): 333-244.
  • Beard, J. S., Frost, B. R., Fryer, P., McCaig, A., Searle, R., Ildefonse, B., Zinin, P. & Sharma, S. K. (2009). Onset and Progression of Serpentinization and Magnetite Formation in Olivine-rich Troctolite from IODP Hole U1309D. Journal of Petrology 50(3): 387-403.
  • Searle, RC (2008). Magnetic susceptibility as a tool for investigating igneous rocks - experience from IODP Expedition 304. Scientific Drilling 6: 52-54.
  • Searle, R. C. , Murton, B. J. Achenbach, K. L. , Ferreira, P. LeBas, T. Mallows, C. , Morris, K. Schroth, N. Tivey, M. Van Calsteren, P. J. Waters, C & Yeo, I. A. (2008). Structure and development of the axial volcanic ridge: Cruise JC24 to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 45°N. InterRidge News 17: 11-15.
  • Blackman, D. K., Karner, G. D. & Searle, R. C. (2008). Three-Dimensional Structure of Oceanic Core Complexes: Effects on Gravity Signature and Ridge Flank Morphology, Mid-Atlantic Ridge 30°N. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 9(6): Q06007.
  • Searle, R.C. & Bralee, A.V. (2007). Asymmetric generation of oceanic crust at the ultra-slow spreading Southwest Indian Ridge, 64ºE. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 8(5): Q05015.
  • Ildefonse, B., Blackman, D. K., John, B. E., Ohara, Y., Miller, D. J., MacLeod, C. J., Abe, N., Abratis, M., Andal, E. S., Andréani, M., Awaji, S., Beard, J. S., Brunelli, D., Charney, A. B., Christie, D. M., Delacour, A. G., Delius, H., Drouin, M., Einaudi, F., Escartin, J., Frost, B. R., Fryer, P. B., Gee, J. S., Godard, M., Grimes, C. B., Halfpenny, A., Hansen, H-E., Harris, A. C., Tamura, A., Hayman, N. W., Hellebrand, E., Hirose, T, Hirth, J. G., Ishimaru, S., Johnson, K. T. M., Karner, G. D., Linek, M., Maeda, J., Mason, O. U., McCaig, A. M., Michibayashi, K., Morris, A., Nakagawa, T., Nozaka, T., Rosner, M., Searle, R. C., Suhr, G., Tominaga, M., von der Handt, A., Yamasaki, T. & Zhao, X. (2007). Oceanic core complexes and crustal accretion at slow-spreading ridges. Geology 35(7): 623-626.
  • Searle, R. C., Francheteau, J. & Armijo, R. (2006). Compressional deformation north of the Easter microplate: a manned submersible and seafloor gravity investigation. Geophysical Journal International 164(2): 359-369.
  • Ildefonse, B., Blackman, D., John, B.E., Ohara, Y., Miller, D.J., MacLeod, C.J. & the IODP Expeditions 304-305 Scientists (2006). IODP Expeditions 304 & 305 Characterize the Lithology, Structure, and Alteration of an Oceanic Core Complex. Scientific Drilling 3: 4-11.
  • Radhakrishna, M., & Searle, R.C. (2006). Isostatic response of the Alula-Fartak and Owen transforms in the Eastern Gulf of Aden and the adjoining Arabian Sea. Geophysical Journal International 165: 62-72.
  • Allen, M.B., Anderson, L., Searle, R.C. & Buslov, M. (2006). Oblique rift geometry of the West Siberian Basin: tectonic setting for the Siberian flood basalts. Journal of the Geological Society 163(6): 901-904.
  • Blackman, D.K., Ildefonse, B. John, B.E. Ohara, Y. Miller, D.J. MacLeod, C.J. & Expedition 304/305 Scientists. (2006). Oceanic Core Complex Formation, Atlantis Massif: Expeditions 304 and 305 of the riserless drilling platform from and to Ponta Delgada, Azores (Portugal), Sites U1309–U1311. Proceedings of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program 304/305.
  • Neves, M.C., Bott, M.H.P. & Searle, R.C. (2004). Patterns of stress at midocean ridges and their offsets due to seafloor subsidence. Tectonophysics 386(3-4): 223-242.
  • Neves, M.C., Searle, R.C. & Bott, M.H.P. (2003). Easter microplate dynamics. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 108(B4): 2213.
  • Searle, R. C., Cannat, M., Fujioka, K., Mevel, C., Fujimoto, H., Bralee, A. & Parson, L. (2003). FUJI Dome: A large detachment fault near 64°E on the very slow-spreading southwest Indian Ridge. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 4(8): 9105.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

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

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