Environmental Sciences Research Institute

  1. Introduction
  2. Staff and Students
  3. Recent Publications


The University of Ulster Geophysics Research Group undertakes research into processes in the shallow crust of the Earth. In particular we focus on understanding the science of earthquakes, where and why they start and stop and what controls their timing and size. The main focus of our work recently is on the Sumatran megathrust where a series of large earthquakes in the last few years has not only resulted in massive devastation and loss of life, but has given science a completely unprecedented insight into the working of subduction zones where one plate is forced under another generating the Earth’s largest and frequently most destructive earthquakes.

Over the last almost 15 years we have worked on the problem of earthquake communication by stress transfer. When an earthquake occurs the slip on one fault deforms the surrounding crust and can either increase or decrease or decrease the stresses on neighbouring faults making other earthquakes more or less likely. Starting from applying this science to the Sumatran earthquakes we have become more involved in the general problems of understanding the accumulation and release of stress over hundred-year time scales in this area and well as in developing methods for estimating stress-related changes in earthquake probabilities. This work is not only extremely challenging from a scientific perspective but also has real social implications. The next large earthquake off-shore western Sumatra has the potential to cause death and devastation on a similar scale to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Sumatran work and its strong social context has spawned collaborations with social scientists and with international humanitarian NGOs. This work is currently attempting to increase awareness of the scientific progress towards identifying areas under particular earthquake threat so that preparation for inevitable earthquakes can be improved. The group is committed to increasing our efforts in this direction.

We have also begun to work on carbon dioxide sequestration and have obtained funding to investigate the potential hazards associated with the injection of fluids into critically-stressed rock masses. Such injection is known to induce earthquakes which have a finite hazard potential and well as the potential for contributing to fluid loss from storage. Earthquake induced by other stressing mechanisms, such as ice melting, are also thought to be important and the group are actively developing proposals to explore this potentially important hazard.

The Geophysics Research Group examines the following areas of research:

Staff and Students

Academic Staff

John McCloskey - Professor of Geophysics

Suleyman Nalbant - Reader in Geophysics

Sandy Steacy - Professor of Earthquake Physics (Director, ESRI)

Research Staff

Shane Murphy - Research Associate

Research Students

Denise De Gaetano - PhD Student

Anthony Lindsay - PhD Student

Keira Quinn - PhD Student


Number of items: 45.

Steacy, Sandy, Gerstenberger, Matt, Williams, Charles, Rhoades, David and Christophersen, Annemarie (2013) A new hybrid Coulomb/statistical model for forecasting aftershock rates. Geophysical Journal International. pp. 1-6.

Steacy, Sandy, Jimenez , Abigail and Holden, Caroline (2013) Stress triggering and the Canterbury earthquake sequence. Geophysical Journal International. pp. 1-8.

Murphy, S, O'Brien, GS, McCloskey, J, Bean, CJ and Nalbant, S (2013) Modelling fluid induced seismicity on a nearby active fault. Geophysical Journal International, 194 (3). pp. 1613-1624.

Nalbant, Suleyman, McCloskey, John, Steacy, Sandy, NicBhloscaidh, Mairead and Murphy, Shane (2013) Interseismic coupling, stress evolution, and earthquake slip on the Sunda Megathrust. Geophysical Research Letters, 40 (16). pp. 4204-4208.

Shannon, Rachel, Hope, Max and McCloskey, John (2011) The Bengkulu premonition: cultural pluralism and hybridity in disaster risk reduction. AREA, 43 (4). pp. 449-455.

Nalbant, SS and McCloskey, John (2011) Stress evolution before and after the 2008 Wenchuan, China earthquake. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 307. pp. 222-232.

Lorito, S., Romano, F., Atzori, S., Tong, X., Avallone, A., McCloskey, J., Cocco, M., Boschi, E. and Piatanesi, A. (2011) Limited overlap between the seismic gap and coseismic slip of the great 2010 Chile earthquake. NATURE GEOSCIENCE, 4 (3). pp. 173-177.

Hainzl, Sebastian, Steacy, Sandy and Marsan, David (2010) Seismicity models based on Coulomb stress calculations. CORSSA: Community Online Resource for Statistical Seismicity Analysis, 25 pp, DOI: 10.5078/corssa-32035809

McCloskey, John, Lange, Dietrich, Tilmann, Frederik, Nalbant, Suleyman S, Bell, Andrew F., Natawidjaja, Danny H. and Rietbrock, Andreas (2010) The September 2009 Padang earthquake. Nature Geoscience, 3. pp. 70-71.

Naylor, Mark, Greenhough, John, McCloskey, John, A.F. Bell, Andrew and Main, Ian (2009) Statistical evaluation of characteristic earthquakes in the frequency-magnitude distributions of Sumatra and other subduction zone regions. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 36 (L20303).

McCloskey, J and Nalbant, SS (2009) Near-real-time aftershock hazard maps. Nature Geoscience, 2 (3). pp. 154-155.

Main, Ian G., Li, Lun, McCloskey, John and Naylor, Mark (2008) Effect of the Sumatran mega-earthquake on the global magnitude cut-off and event rate. NATURE GEOSCIENCE, 1 (3). pp. 142-142.

McCloskey, John, Antonioli, Andrea, Piatanesi, Alessio, Sieh, Kerry, Steacy, Sandy, Nalbant, Suleyman, Cocco, Massimo, Giunchi, Carlo, Huang, JianDong and Dunlop, Paul (2008) Tsunami threat in the Indian Ocean from a future megathrust earthquake west of Sumatra. EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS, 265 (1-2). pp. 61-81.

Hetherington, Alison and Steacy, Sandy (2007) Fault heterogeneity and earthquake scaling. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 34 (16). pp. L16310.

McCloskey, John, Antonioli, Andrea, Piatanesi, Alessio, Sieh, Kerry, Steacy, Sandy, Nalbant, Suleyman S, Cocco, Massimo, Giunchi, Carlo, Huang, Jian Dong and Dunlop, Paul (2007) Near-field propagation of tsunamis from megathrust earthquakes. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 34 (14). pp. L14316.

Nalbant, Suleyman S, Steacy, Sandy and McCloskey, John (2006) Stress transfer relations among the earthquakes that occurred in Kerman province, southern Iran since 1981. GEOPHYSICAL JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL, 167 (1). pp. 309-318.

Cassidy, R, Morrow, PJ and McCloskey, J (2006) A machine vision system for quantifying velocity fields in complex rock models. Machine Vision and Applications, 16 (6). pp. 343-355.

Nalbant, SS, McCloskey, J and Steacy, S (2005) Lessons on the calculation of static stress loading from the 2003 Bingol, Turkey earthquake. EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS, 235 (3-4). pp. 632-640.

Nalbant, S, Steacy, S, Sieh, K, Natawidjaja, D and McCloskey, J (2005) Earthquake risk on the Sunda trench. NATURE, 435 (7043). pp. 756-757.

Steacy, S, Gomberg, J and Cocco, M (2005) Introduction to special section: Stress transfer, earthquake triggering, and time-dependent seismic hazard. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH, 110 (B5). pp. B05S01.

Steacy, S, Nalbant, SS, McCloskey, J, Nostro, C, Scotti, O and Baumont, D (2005) Onto what planes should Coulomb stress perturbations be resolved?. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH, 110 (B5). pp. B05S15.

McCloskey, J, Nalbant, SS and Steacy, S (2005) Indonesian earthquake: Earthquake risk from co-seismic stress.. NATURE, 434 (7031). pp. 291.

Cassidy, R., McCloskey, J and Morrow, PJ (2005) Fluid velocity fields in 2D heterogeneous porous media: empirical measurement and validation of numerical prediction. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 249 (1). pp. 115-130.

Marsan, D and Nalbant, SS (2005) Methods for measuring seismicity rate changes: A review and a study of how the M-w 7.3 Landers earthquake affected the aftershock sequence of the M-w 6.1 Joshua Tree earthquake. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 162 (6-7). pp. 1151-1185.

Steacy, S, Marsan, D, Nalbant, SS and McCloskey, J (2004) Sensitivity of static stress calculations to the earthquake slip distribution. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH, 109 (B4). pp. B04303.

McCloskey, J, Nalbant, SS, Steacy, S, Nostro, C, Scotti, O and Baumont, D (2003) Structural constraints on the spatial distribution of aftershocks. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 30 (12). pp. 1610.

Utkucu, M, Nalbant, SS, McCloskey, J, Steacy, S and Alptekin, O (2003) Slip distribution and stress changes associated with the 1999 November 12, Duzce (Turkey) earthquake (M (w)=7.1). GEOPHYSICAL JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL, 153 (1). pp. 229-241.

Nalbant, SS, McCloskey, J, Steacy, S and Barka, AA (2002) Stress accumulation and increased seismic risk in eastern Turkey. EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS, 195 (3-4). pp. 291-298.

Cassidy, R, McCloskey, J and Morrow, PJ (2001) Estimating Fluid Flow Velocities: An Image Analysis Approach. In: IEEE International Conference on Image Processing 2001, Thessaloniki, Greece. IEEE Computer Society. Vol 1 285-288

Bayrak, M. and Nalbant, SS (2001) Conductive crust imaged in western Turkey by MT. Geophysical Research Letters, 28 (18). pp. 3521-3524.

King, GCP, Hubert-Ferrari, A, Nalbant, SS, Meyer, B, Armijo, R and Bowman, D (2001) Coulomb interactions and the 17 August 1999 Izmit, Turkey earthquake. Comptes Rendus De L Academie Des Sciences Serie Ii Fascicule a-Sciences De La Terre Et Des Planetes, 333 (9). pp. 557-569.

Marsan, D, Bean, CJ, Steacy, S and McCloskey, J (2000) Observation of diffusion processes in earthquake populations and implications for the predictability of seismicity systems. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH, 105 (B12). pp. 28081-28094.

Hubert-Ferrari, A, Barka, A, Jacques, E, Nalbant, SS, Meyer, B, Armijo, R, Tapponnier, P and King, GCP (2000) Seismic hazard in the Marmara Sea region following the 17 August 1999 Izmit earthquake. Nature, 404 (6775). pp. 269-273.

Marsan, D, Bean, CJ, Steacy, S and McCloskey, J (1999) Spatio-temporal analysis of stress diffusion in a mining-induced seismicity system. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 26 (24). pp. 3697-3700.

Steacy, SJ and McCloskey, J (1999) Heterogeneity and the earthquake magnitude-frequency distribution. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 26 (7). pp. 899-902.

Eyidogan, H, Nalbant, SS, Barka, A and King, GCP (1999) Static stress changes induced by the 1924 Pasinler (M=6.8) and 1983 Horasan-Narman (M=6.8) earthquakes, Northeastern Turkey. Terra Nova, 11 (1). pp. 38-44.

Steacy, SJ and McCloskey, J (1998) What controls an earthquake's size? Results from a heterogeneous cellular automaton. GEOPHYSICAL JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL, 133 (1). pp. F11-F14.

Nalbant, SS, Hubert, A and King, GCP (1998) Stress coupling between earthquakes in northwest Turkey and the north Aegean Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth, 103 (B10). pp. 24469-24486.

Steacy, SJ, McCloskey, J, Bean, CJ and Ren, JW (1996) Heterogeneity in a self-organized critical earthquake model. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 23 (4). pp. 383-386.

Nalbant, SS, Barka, A. A. and Alptekin, O. (1996) Failure stress change caused by the 1992 Erzincan earthquake (Ms=6.8). Geophysical Research Letters, 23 (13). pp. 1561-1564.

Cook, Sally and McCloskey, John (1995) COMMENT ON PREDICTIVE EQUATION PUBLISHED BY SPANTON (1983). ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT, 29 (22). pp. 3381-3383.

Nalbant, SS and Alptekin, O (1995) THE USE OF LANDSAT THEMATIC MAPPER IMAGERY FOR ANALYZING LITHOLOGY AND STRUCTURE OF KORUCU-DUGLA AREA IN WESTERN TURKEY. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 16 (13). pp. 2357-2374.




This list was generated on Wed Apr 23 10:03:29 2014 BST.