Jess Payne

Jess Payne


I am a PhD student investigating how the earth observation technique of InSAR can be used to map the extents and rates of subsidence across Iran. Additionally, I aim to detect faults in subsiding sedimentary basins in regions with active faulting. I work in the Institute for Geophysics and Tectonics, part of the School of Earth and Environment.

I also have experience of using high resolution topography data acquired by satellites to constrain surface level changes over time, with the aim of validating InSAR measurements of subsidence. These data include ICESat and ICESat-2 laser altimetry, and Pleiades and Pleaides Neo optical images.

In 2019, I graduated with BA Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge. I stayed at Cambridge to complete an MSci in Earth Sciences in 2020, focusing particularly on natural hazards. During my MSci project, I used seismic waveform modelling to constrain the continental tectonics of the Ordos Plateau, China.

Following my degree, I worked as an analyst at an international industry board for the metal tin, investigating global tin demand and recycling.

I am a NERC and UK Space Agency funded PhD student with a SENSE Earth Observation CDT studentship.

Research interests

I am currently interested in using satellite data to map surface deformation over time, namely Sentinel-1 InSAR, ICESat and ICESat-2 laser altimetry, and Pleaides (Neo) Optical data. In Iran, rapid subsidence due to groundwater depletion poses a hazard to infrastructure and society. I am interested in how remote monitoring techniques can be used to accurately constrain the current and future locations of rapid subsidence in the country to help inform local stakeholders who might be mitigating against the impacts of subsidence.

Additionally, the pattern of subsidence mapped by InSAR might reveal the locations of active faults buried beneath young sediments. I am interested in being able to map previously unmapped, buried faults which could provide a valuable contribution to seismic hazard assessments in Iran.

Finally, I am interested in the role of and ethics of remote sensing scientists using satellite data to research geohazards, particularly in geographic regions which are challenging to work with due to political or social regions.


  • MSci, Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
  • BA, Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics