Environmental Sciences Research Institute

  1. Background
  2. Publications
  3. Research Grants
  4. Teaching Interests

Prof John McCloskey

Professor of Geophysics

Contact Me
Room G156
School of Environmental Sciences
University of Ulster
Cromore Road
BT52 1SA
Tel: +44(0)28 70124769
Email: j.mccloskey@ulster.ac.uk


His research interests involve the study of crustal systems and earthquake physics and he now concentrates on the study of stress interaction triggering, whereby earthquakes can communicate, one earthquake making another more (or less) likely. Following the great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of 26/12/2004 his group used these techniques successfully to forecast the 2005 Simeulue-Nias earthquake (M8.7). Stress interaction calculations can identify those geological structures that are most likely to produce damaging earthquakes in the near future and can lead to forecasts of their likely consequences. McCloskey now concentrates his effort almost exclusively on Sumatra. He has published more than 10 papers in top journals and has been PI on 5 NERC funded projects on the earthquake threat there; he was PI on an ELRHA project on linking earthquake science to the NGO sector. His work informs DRR planning and he has become increasingly involved in attempts to communicate earthquake science to at-risk populations. He is a regular contributor to the national and international media where he argues for greater dialogue between the scientific and humanitarian communities for DRR in developing countries.


1980 B.Sc. (Hons) Geology with Physics, Queen’s University Belfast

1982 PGCE Physics (Chemistry) Queen’s University Belfast

1993 D.Phil. Geophysics University of Ulster Thesis title: ’The Dimensionality of Crustal Structure’


2002-2006 Head of School, Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster 2001-present Professor of Geophysics, University of Ulster 1999-2001 Reader in Environmental Science, University of Ulster 1995-1999 Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science, University of Ulster 1993-1995 Lecturer in Environmental Science, University of Ulster Mar - Nov 1993 Research Officer Environmental Science, University of Ulster 1990-1993 Tutor with Open University 1983-1993 Teacher of Physics, Dept. Education for NI

Community Service

Member of the NERC Geophysical Equipment Pool Steering Committee Member of the National Committee for Geodesy and Geophysics Member of University of Ulster Research Foresight Group Reviewer for NERC, Phys. Rev. Lett., J. Geophys. Res., Geophys. J. Int., Geophys. Res. Lett., and EPSL.


European Geophysical Society ’Young Scientist’s Publication Award’ 1994 for paper ’A Hierarchical Model for Earthquake Generation on Coupled Segments of a Transform Fault.’ Geophysical Journal International 115, 538-551


Number of items: 32.

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.

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.

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, 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Jackson, DWT and McCloskey, J (1997) Preliminary results from a field investigation of aeolian sand transport using high resolution wind and transport measurements. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 24 (2). pp. 163-166.

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.

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

Gomes, N., Andradre, C., Nevin, G., McCloskey, John and Jackson, D.W.T. (1994) Aeolian sediment transport in the Culatra Barrier, Ria Formosa, (Algarve-Portugal). Proceedings of International Symposium Littoral ‘94, .. pp. 509-516.

Sherman, D.J., Carter, R.W.G., Jackson, D.W.T., McCloskey, John, Davidson-Arnott, R.W.D., Gares, P.A., Jackson, N.L. and Nordstrom, K.F. (1994) The Aeolus Project: Measuring Coastal Wind and Sediment Systems. Proceedings of Coastal Dynamics ‘94, .. pp. 476-487.

This list was generated on Fri Apr 18 09:05:33 2014 BST.

Research Grants

Leverhulme Trust. Personal research fellowship: "Modelling Seismicity in a fractally fractured crust"

European Social Fund. "Preferred porosity directions and azimuthal variations of the fractal statistics of the upper lithosphere"

INCO Mines Ltd. with Dr. C.J. Bean, University College "Modelling rockbursts and mining induced seismicity in Creighton mine, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada using customised, self-organised critical cellular automata with long range deterministic coupling"

EC/Fobairt. "The Formulation of a Coastal Sensitivity Index Based on Wave Sediment Interaction"

EC. with Prof. Julian Orford, and Prof. R.W.G. Carter, "Variation in coastal forcing and its response along the European Atlantic shoreline"

Esme Fairbairn Trust. with Dr. Derek Jackson, Department of Environmental Studies: "Experimental and Theoretical Investigation of Littoral Aeolian Sediment Transport and its Importance in Coastal Management."

INCO mines Canada. Stage II of Seismic Simulation Project

Natural Environment Research Council "A Search for Repeating Microearthquakes in the G.Corinth, Greece"

NERC Geophysical Equipment Pool

Natural Environment Research Council with Sandy Steacy. An Investigation of the Relation Between Coulomb Stress Perturbations, Large Aftershocks, and Fault Structure.

European Commission Framework V with Sandy Steacy. Towards Practical, Real Time Estimation of Spatial Aftershock Probabilities: a Feasibility Study in Earthquake Hazard (PRESAP).

INTEREG "An integrated geophysical approach to the preliminary assessment of potential waste disposal sites"

NERC "Fully determined fluid velocity fields for complex 2D media with multi-scaled heterogeneity

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council with Sandy Steacy and Philip Morrow.An Investigation of the Origin and Nature of the Gutenberg-Richter Relation.

Natural Environment Research Council with Sandy Steacy and Suleyman Nalbant. Urgent assessment of the location and orientation of the Bingol rupture by mapping surface breaks, J. McCloskey.

European Commission Framework VI Marie Curie with Sandy Steacy and Andrea Antonioli, Constrained heterogeneous loading of complex fault networks (CONSTRAIN).

Natural Environment Research Council with Tony Bjourson and Rachel Cassidy. An investigation of the time dependency of concentration of naked and armoured DNA tracers under environmental conditions.

Natural Environment Research Council with Suleyman Nalbant and Sandy Steacy. The influence of viscoelastic relaxation on the effective duration of Coulomb stress perturbations.

Natural Environment Research Council with Sandy Steacy and Suleyman Nalbant. Tsunami Risk in the Indian Ocean from Threatened M>8 Event Under Mentawai Islands.

Royal Society with Sandy Steacy. Summer Science Exhibition.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council with Sandy Steacy. Assessing tsunami hazard in Sumatra: A Royal Society summer science exhibit.

Griffith Geoscience Research Award: Capability building for the enhanced geophysical interpretation of the dynamics of CO2 sequestration, J. McCloskey, C. Bean (UCD) and R. Cassidy, 2007 2012.

Natural Environment Research Council: Urgent assessment of the earthquake and tsunami hazard in western Sumatra following the 09/07 Mentawai Islands earthquake sequence, J. McCloskey, S. Steacy, and S. S. Nalbant, 2007 2008.

Natural Environment Research Council: Evaluation of historical earthquake interaction and seismic risk to western Sumatra, J. McCloskey, S. Steacy, and S. S. Nalbant, 2008 2009.

Teaching Interests