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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Professor Nick Rosser, BSc (Hons) 1st Class (Dunelm), PhD (Dunelm)

Professor in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41918
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 319

Contact Professor Nick Rosser (email at

Research interests

My primary research is focused upon the recognition of the role of material deformation characteristics in controlling the spatial and temporal nature of rockfalls and landslides. Using data collected both in the laboratory and in the field, I am interested in exploring theoretical models which underpin recent developments in the understanding the mechanics of slope failure. My research is most often end-user focussed, with an emphasis on risk management which broadly considers when, why, where and how landslides occur. My recent research has focussed in two areas: earthquake-triggered landsliding; and, the development and use of 3D time-series terrestrial imaging techniques to monitor slope failure at unprecedented levels of spatial and temporal detail.

I am currently PI on series of projects that enable my research group to pursue these interests. For example, I lead the long term Coastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (COBRA) research collaboration that runs in partnership with ICL Fertilizers (UK) Ltd, conducting fundamental research on rock slope failure, coastal evolution and deep mining in North Yorkshire, UK. I also lead a project focussed around providing a rolling assessment of the evolution of landslide risk in the area impacted by the 2015 Nepal earthquakes, working with DFID-Nepal and the National Society for Earthquake Technology (Kathmandu)

Research video

A short video (2014) summarising some of my research is available on Youtube.

Research Groups

Research Projects

Research Interests

  • Landslide hazard and risk
  • Rock slope failure
  • 3D terrestrial monitoring
  • Rock coast evolution

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Chapter in book

  • de Vilder, S.J., Rosser, N.J., Brain, M.J. & Vann Jones, E.C. Forensic rockfall scar analysis: Development of a mechanically correct model of rockfall failure. In: De Graff, J.V. & Shakoor, A. Landslides: Putting Experience, Knowledge and Emerging Technologies into Practice. Zanesville, Ohio: Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG); 2017:829-839.
  • Whadcoat, S.K., Rosser, N.J., Brain, M.J. & Hardy, R.J. Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Rockfalls in Hard Rock Coastal Cliffs. In: De Graff, J.V. & Shakoor, A. Landslides: Putting Experience, Knowledge and Emerging Technologies into Practice. Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG); 2017:633 - 644.
  • Benjamin, J., Rosser, N.J. & Brain, M.J. Rockfall detection and volumetric characterisation using LiDAR. In: Aversa, S., Cascini, L., Picarelli, L. & Scavia, C. Landslides and Engineered Slopes: Experience, Theory and Practice. CRC Press; 2016:389 - 396.

Show all publications

Related Links

Selected Grants

  • 2017: Earthquake triggered landsliding in Nepal: NERC / DFID SHEAR
  • 2017: Harnessing 'citizen science' to reinforce resilience to environmental disasters
  • 2016: Automatic Detection and Early Warning of Landslide Hazard in South Asia
  • 2016: Cowbar Nab Coastal Monitoring 2016-2019, Scarborough Borough Council
  • 2014: Coastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (2014 - 19)
  • 2012: Real time 4D monitoring of actively failing rockslopes, 3DLM Ltd, 2012 - 15. KTP Award
  • 2011: Cowbar Coastal Monitoring and Environmental Data, R&CBC, 2011 - 15
  • 2008: Analogue modelling of brittle failure in landslides, NERC - Young Investigator Grant
  • 2006: 4D monitoring of Whitby East Cliff, National Grid Wireless
  • 2015: Coastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (2015 -)
  • 2012: Coastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (2012 - 15)
  • 2008: Whitby coastal strategy, Royal Haskoning UK Ltd