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Durham University

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Dr Matthew Funnell, MSci (Hons) Dunelm, PhD, FRAS, FHEA, MNEIMME

Post Docotoral Research Associate in the Department of Earth Sciences

Contact Dr Matthew Funnell


2019 - Present: Postdoctoral Research Associate (Project Researcher)

2017 - 2019: Teaching Fellow in Applied Geophysics and Modelling

2013 - 2017: PhD in Marine Geophysics, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University.

2009 - 2013: MSci in Geophysics with Geology (1st Class), Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University.

July - September 2012: Research Geophysics Intern, Ikon Science.


Evolution of oceanic crust at the Costa Rica Rift (OSCAR project)

Through this ongoing research, I utilise a range of marine geophysical techniques to characterise the evolution of crustal structure as the oceanic crust ages - from formation at the Costa Rica Rift, to 5.9 Ma at DSDP/ODP borehole 504B. The resulting models inform our understanding of hydrothermal ciruclation through the oceanic crust as it ages, vital to our understanding of how much heat is transferred from the lithosphere to the hydrosphere, and how much influence this has on global ocean temperatures.

The OSCAR project ( aims to understand the interaction between the oceanic crust and overlying ocean through heat transfer and fluid flow.

PhD Research: Crustal structure and flexural characteristics of the Louisville Ridge

The purpose of this project, funded by NERC, is to determine the structure and flexural characteristics of the subducting and overriding plates at the Tonga-Kermadec subduction system. A suite of geophysical data was collected across the Louisville Ridge on the Pacific Plate, and the Kermadec forearc on the Indo-Australian Plate, in 2011 as part of cruise R/V Sonne SO215. Integration of the reflection and wide-angle refraction seismic data with flexural modeling should provide insight into both the crustal flexure of the subducting plate and the structural and flexural response of the overriding plate to the subduction process.

Teaching Experience & Pedagogical Research

Over the 2017/2018-2018/2019 academic years I lead or assisted in the teaching of a range of geophysics modules for level 2 undergraduate students, including:

  • Fieldwork (Geophysical)
  • Geophysical Methods in Geology
  • Geophysical Data Applications

Through these modules I taught gravity, magnetic, seismic, and resistivity techniques applied to varying scales of geological problems. Alongside the geophysical content, through these modules I enabled the development of student skills in computer programming, data modelling and interpretation, as well as scientific report writing. Over my two years teaching I led and updated the existing geophysical tutorial system to incorporate more statistical analysis and ensure it is more closely aligned with the material currently taught in the core geophysical modules.

Further to this, I supervised a number of students undertaking level 3 geophysics dissertations. These dissertation projects covered gravity modelling of crustal structure across subduction systems, and near surface geophysical land surveys using a range of techniques.

I have also tutored special geology projects at the International Study Centre at Durham University. This tutoring involved delivering fundamental geological theories and principles of fieldwork to international students. The geology projects undertaken by the students focussed on utilising geological data and fieldwork to estimate the economic potential of the North Pennines Orefield.

Research Cruises

JC132 - 13°N MAR (12th January - 25th February 2016)

The final (3rd) leg of the 13°N Mid-Atlantic Ridge project, involving active multichannel (MCS) and wide-angle (WA) seismic data acquistion, as well as high-resolution bathymetric and magnetic data from AUTOSUB to understand the importance of detachment faulting at slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges. During the cruise, my role was to assist with the deployment and recovery of Ocean Bottom Seismographs (OBS), Marine Mammal Observing prior to active seismic shooting phases and the watchkeeping of MCS data acquisition, as well as the processing and cleaning of the shipboard multibeam bathymetry dataset. Further information on the purpose and initial outcomes of the cruise can be found in this Astronomy and Geophysics article.

JC114 - OSCAR (20th January - 10th March, 2015)

OSCAR is a multi-cruise and interdisciplinary project designed to study the change in heat transfer from the crust to the ocean with increasing distance from a spreading ridge. A series of seismic reflection and wide-angle refraction profiles were acquired during JC114, the second cruise in the project. I assisted with the recovery and deployment of OBS instruments, and acted as a general watchkeeper and Marine Mammal Observer during the acquisition of the seismic profiles. For more details on the project, please refer to the OSCAR website.

JC109 - 13°N MAR (9th October - 3rd November, 2014)

The purpose of cruise JC109 was to recover the 25 Ocean Bottom Seismographs (OBSs) deployed earlier in the year during JC102. After successfully recovering all OBSs, the data were extracted from the instruments and more swathing was undertaken to improve the regional bathymetric data coverage. I assisted with the recovery and cleaning of the OBSs, monitored swath acquisition, and helped clean acquisition artefacts in the raw swath data.

JC102 - 13°N Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) (5th - 18th April, 2014)

Cruise JC102 is the first of three expeditions to 13°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to determine the role and extent of detachment faulting at slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges. This part of the study involved the deployment of 25 Ocean Bottom Seismigraphs (OBS) for the acquisition of passive seismic data between April and October 2014, and the collection of swath bathymetry data to improve high-resolution bathymetry coverage of the region. I was involved in the construction and deployment of the OBS and monitored swath acquisition throughout the cruise.


Journal Articles

Simão, N.M., Peirce, C., Funnell, M.J.Robinson, A.H., Searle, R.C., MacLeod, C.J. & Reston, T.J. (2020). Three-dimensional P-wave velocity structure of oceanic core complexes at 13°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, G. J. Int., doi: 10.1093/gji/ggaa093.

Peirce, C., Robinson, A.H., Funnell, M.J., Searle, R.C., MacLeod, C.J. and Reston, T.J., 2020. Magmatism versus serpentinization – crustal structure along the 13°N segment at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, G. J. Int., doi: 10.1093/gji/ggaa052.

Peirce, C., Robinson, A.H., Campbell, A.M., Funnell, M.J., Grevemeyer, I., Hayman, N.W., Van Avendonk, H.J.A. & Castiello, G., 2019. Seismic investigation of an active ocean-continent transform margin: the interaction between the Swan Islands Fault Zone and the ultraslow-spreading Mid-Cayman Spreading Centre. G. J. Int. doi: 10.1093/gji/ggz283

Wilson, D.J., Robinson, A.H., Hobbs, R.W., Peirce, C. & Funnell, M.J., 2019. Does intermediate spreading-rate oceanic crust result from episodic transition between magmatic and magma-dominated, faulting-enhanced spreading? – the Costa Rica Rift example. G. J. Int. doi: 10.1093/gji/ggz184

Peirce, C., Reveley, G., Robinson, A.H., Funnell, M.J., Searle, R.C., Simão, N.M., MacLeod, C.J., Reston, T.J., 2019. Constraints on crustal structure of adjacent OCCs and segment boundaries at 13°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. G. J. Int. 217 (2): 988–1010. doi: 10.1093/gji/ggz074

Robinson, A.H., Peirce, C., Funnell, M.J., 2018. Construction and subduction of the Louisville Ridge, SW Pacific—insights from wide-angle seismic data modelling. G. J. Int. 215 (3):2222–2245. DOI: 10.1093/gji/ggy397

Funnell, M.J., Peirce, C., Robinson, A.H., 2017. Structural variability of the Tonga-Kermadec forearc characterized using robustly constrained geophysical data. G. J. Int. 210 (3): 1681–1702. doi: 10.1093/gji/ggx260

Stratford, W., Peirce, C., Funnell, M.J., Paulatto, M., Watts, A.B., Grevemeyer, I. & Bassett, D., 2015. Seismic velocity structure and deformation due to collision of the Louisville Ridge with the Tonga-Kermadec Trench. G. J. Int. 200 (3): 1503-1522. doi: 10.1093/gji/ggu475

Funnell, M.J., Peirce, C., Stratford, W.R., Paulatto, M., Watts, A.B. & Grevemeyer, I., 2014. Structure and deformation of the Kermadec forearc in response to subduction of the Pacific oceanic plate. G. J. Int. 199 (2): 1286-1302. doi: 10.1093/gji/ggu330

Conference Talks

Peirce, C., Simao, N.M., Robinson, A.H., FunnellM.J., Searle, R.C., Reston, T.J., and MacLeod, C.J., 2019. P- and S-Wave Velocity Structure of Oceanic Core Complexes of the 13°N Segment of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. AGU Fall Meeting, 2019. T12C-02.

FunnellM.J., Peirce, C., Robinson, A.H., 2019. Geophysical Investigation of the Tonga-Kermadec Subduction System: Do Inherited and Seamount Subduction-Influenced Lateral Variations Control Long-Term Crustal Structure? AGU Fall Meeting, 2019. T21B-01.

Robinson, A.H., Hobbs, R.W., Peirce, C., FunnellM.J., 2019. Ageing and Evolution of Oceanic Crust Formed by Magma-Rich and Magma-Poor Spreading. AGU Fall Meeting, 2019. T41B-05.

Robinson, A.H., Funnell, M.J., Peirce, C., 2017. Subduction of the Louisville Ridge Seamount Chain. AGU Fall Meeting, 2017. T14B-03.

Conference Posters

Funnell, M.J., Peirce, C., Robinson, A.H., Watts, A.B. & Grevemeyer, I., 2016. Structure and evolution of the forearc-arc crust along the Tonga-Kermadec subduction system from integrated geophysical data. AGU Fall Meeting, 2016. V13C-2868.

Funnell, M.J., Peirce, C., Stratford, W.R., Watts, A.B. & Grevemeyer, I., 2014. Crustal Structure and Flexural Characteristics of the Louisville Ridge and Tonga-Kermadec Subduction System. AGU Fall Meeting, 2014. T53C-4694.

Funnell, M.J., Peirce, C., Stratford, W.R., Paulatto, M. & Watts, A.B., 2013. Structure and deformation of the Tonga-Kermadec subduction system in the Louisville Ridge pre-collision zone. AGU Fall meeting, 2013. T33A-2614.

Funnell, M.J., Peirce, C., Stratford, W.R., Paulatto, M. & Watts, A.B., 2013. Structure and deformation of the Tonga-Kermadec subduction system in the Louisville Ridge pre-collision zone. Postgraduate Research in Marine and Earth Sciences, 2013.

Research Groups

Department of Earth Sciences