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Prof Gillian Foulger, B.A., M.A., M.Sc., Ph.D.

Personal web page

Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42314
Room number: Rm 319
Professorial Fellow of St Chad's College

Contact Prof Gillian Foulger (email at

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Earth Sciences: Earthquakes, earthquake damage, building resilience
  • Earth Sciences: Volcanoes, volcanic eruptions, ash plumes, impact on society
  • Earth Sciences: Geothermal energy
  • Earth Sciences: The controversy regarding the origin of "hot spots" such as Hawaii and Iceland
  • Earth Sciences: Fracking, and industrially induced earthquakes
  • Earth Sciences: Iceland
  • Earth Sciences: Plate tectonics

Please visit my home page at


2004 – present — Professor, University of Durham.

1997 – 2004 — Reader, University of Durham.

1992 – 1993 — Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey.

1985 – 1997 — Lecturer in Geophysics, University of Durham.

1985 — Post Doctoral RA, Dept. Geological Sciences, Univ. Durham.

1985  — Ph.D. Geophysics (Durham)

1978 — M.A. (Cambridge)

1977 – 1984 — Research Scientist, Geophysics Division, University of Iceland.

1976 — M.Sc. Geophysics (Durham) 

1974  — B.A. Natural Sciences (Cambridge)

Committee and Society Service

2004 – 2009 — Steering Committee for the Large Igneous Provinces Commission of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI).

2005 — Scientific committee member, SAL2005 Workshop on Ocean Island Volcanism, Cape Verde Republic

Committee member, NERC Geophysical Equipment Pool

Member, NASA Earth Observation System (EOS) Evaluation Panel

Durham University representative, Universities Navstar Consortium (UNAVCO)

Durham University interview panels in Earth Science, Physics, Mathematics, Engineering and Archaeology

Member, St. Mary’s & St. Chad’s Colleges governing bodies

Conferences and Workshops

2005  The Great Plume Debate, Chapman Conference held in Scotland, sponsored by the American Geophysical Union.

2004 — Convener and chair, special session “Plumes or not?”, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco

2003 — Initiated and convened Plume IV: Beyond the Plume Hypothesis, a Penrose Conference held in Iceland, and sponsored by the Geological Society of America.


2005 — Fellow, Icelandic National Academy of Sciences

2001 — Sir James Knott Research Fellow

1993 — Nuffield Foundation Fellow

Invited Keynotes

2007 — "Iceland: What we know and what we don't" at the Rift to Ridge IODP meeting in Southampton

Membership of Organisations and Societies

Fellow, Icelandic National Academy of Sciences

Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society

American Geophysical Union

Society of Exploration Geophysicists

International Association of Geodesy

Prizes & Awards

2005 — Price Medal, Royal Astronomical Society

University of Durham Sir James Knott Research Fellowship

Research Interests

  • Crustal deformation using the Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Earthquake seismology
  • Geothermal prospecting
  • Iceland tectonics and structure

Selected Publications

  • 1: Foulger, GR (2010). Plates vs Plumes: A Geological Controversy. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • 2: Foulger, GR (2012). Are 'hot spots' hot spots? Journal of Geodynamics 58: 1-28.
  • 3: Julian, BR & Foulger, GR (2010). Time-dependent seismic tomography. Geophysical Journal International 182(3): 1327-1338.
  • 4: Julian, BR, Foulger, GR, Monastero, FC & Bjornstad, S (2010). Imaging Hydraulic Fractures in a Geothermal Reservoir. Geophysical Research Letters 37: L07305.
  • Du, Z, Vinnik, L.P & Foulger, G.R. (2006). Evidence from P-to-S mantle converted waves for a flat “660-km” discontinuity beneath Iceland. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 241(1-2): 271-280.
  • Foulger, G.R., Natland, J.H & Anderson, D.L (2005). A source for Icelandic magmas in remelted Iapetus crust. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 141(1-2): 23-44.
  • Foulger, G.R, Julian, B.R, Hill, D.P, Pitt, A.M, Malin, P & Shalev, E (2004). Non-double-couple microearthquakes at Long Valley caldera, California, provide evidence for hydraulic fracturing. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 132(1): 45-71.
  • Foulger, G.R, Du, Z.J & Julian, B.R (2003). Icelandic-type crust. Geophysical Journal International 155(2): 567-590.
  • Foulger, G.R & Natland, J.H (2003). Is 'hotspot' volcanism a consequence of plate tectonics? Science 300: 921.
  • Foulger, G.R, Pritchard, M.J, Julian, B.R, Evans, J.E, Allen, R.M, Nolet, G, Morgan, W.J, Bergsson, B, Erlendsson, P, Jakobsdottir, S, Ragnarsson, S, Stefansson, R & Vogfjord, K (2001). Seismic tomography shows that upwelling beneath Iceland is confined to the upper mantle. Geophysical Journal International 146(2): 504-530.

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