Dr. Antonio Abellan

Dr. Antonio Abellan


Antonio joined the School of Earth and Environment in 2018 as Lecturer in Engineering Geology & Geohazards before completing an independent research fellowship (EU H2020 Marie-Sklodowska-Curie) at the Scott Polar Research Institute (University of Cambridge) during 2016-2018, and a prolonged postdoctoral research & teaching assistant position at the Risk Analysis Group of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland). Antonio holds an adjunct assistant professorship in the department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering (Queens University, Canada) since 2015 and was also appointed as guest professor at Eichstätt University (Germany) in 2014.

Antonio has contributed in more than 30 publications in leading peer-reviewed journals including Landslides, Remote Sensing, Engineering Geology, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, Computers & Geosciences, etc. He has responsibilities on the Editorial Board of Computers & Geosciences journal (Elsevier) and was invited / guest editor in an special issue of Remote Sensing journal. He has been the main applicant and co-applicant in several projects successfully funded by Science Foundations at European and National levels in the Switzerland, Spain and the UK. He has been part of the organizing and scientific committee of multiple workshops and conferences and he presented his research outcomes in more than 35 conferences, symposiums and invited talks.

Antonio gained his European Doctorate at the University of Barcelona in 2009, with prolonged research stays in leading European Institutions (Durham University, United Kingdom and University of Lausanne, Switzerland). He was awarded with an MSc in Geological Engineering at the University of Alicante + Barcelona (1st class honours), obtaining an extraordinary award to the 2nd-highest-ranking student at national level.

Research interests

Interested in understanding the dynamics of gravity driven instabilities in order to predict the occurrence of (catastrophic) slope failures both in rock and in icy media. My current research interests range from the use of high resolution techniques and methods for 3D experimental data collection (remote sensing techniques, Structure-from-motion, UAV's), to the development of innovative algorithms for the characterization, monitoring and modelling of progressive failures. I am also interested in failure forecasting and early warning systems by investigating the influence of external forces on slope evolution, notably in Norway. I am progressively adapting my research interests to the investigation of glacier front dynamics in Greenland, aiming to gain understanding of the processes leading to discrete ice calving events, including a better undernstanding of the apparent randomness of calving events.

I welcome interest from smart postgraduate students in any area of my research. Applicants are expected to have: (a) a very good master degree (e.g. First Class Honours degree); (b) a concise statement drafting his/her research interests (2-3 paragraphs); (c) a good IELTS or TOEFL score where an English language qualification is necessary. Please, do not hesitate to contact me if you any of the following topics is inspiring you:

  • Forecasting of landslide accelerations related with strong precipitation
  • Using smart sensors for landslide monitoring
  • Landslides in permafrost under changing climate scenarios
  • 3D investigation of rock masses: automatic discontinuity extraction/slope monitoring-surveillance
  • Using drones for investigating the dynamics of high risk slopes
  • Stability / trajectography simulation with Monte Carlo simulation of a given geotechnical software either in 2D or 3D e.g. rocscience software (slide 2/3, phase/RS2, rocfall, etc.) + optional residual risk computation after mitigation measures (e.g. anchoring, protective barriers, etc.)
  • Real-Time Monitoring and early warning of landslides + design and implementation of an early warning system based on landslide modelling
  • Glacier front monitoring as analogy of rock slope failure
  • Landslide recognition at regional scale using satellite/airborne LiDAR/Google Earth Engine/etc.



  • 2018 | Equipment funding: slope monitoring (co-applicant)
  • 2016-2018 | Marie Curie Research project: EU H2020 Program (main applicant)
  • 2015 | Scientific Expedition: Herbette Foundation (co-applicant)
  • 2014-2015 | Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (co-applicant)
  • 2013 | Summer School Travel Award: Landslide Modelling & Early Warning Systems
  • 2012-2014 | Research project: Swiss National Science Foundation (co-applicant)
  • 2011-2012 | Research project: Swiss National Science Foundation (co-applicant)
  • 2009 | Academic award: PhD Thesis European Mention
  • 2007 | PhD Mobility Fellowship: hosting institution: Univ. Lausanne
  • 2006 | PhD Mobility Fellowship: hosting institution: Host: Univ. Durham
  • 2004-2008 | PhD Fellowship: Spanish Ministry of Science & Education
  • 2004 | European Geosciences Union Travel Award
  • 2003 | Prize: Second-highest-ranking student at national level
  • 2003 | Mobility fellowship, University of Barcelona
  • 2003 | Academic award: First Class Honours during MSc + BSc studies
  • 2002 | Seneca Mobility Fellowship, undergraduate Spanish Ministry Science

Research projects

Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all research projects allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.


  • PhD Engineering Geology, University of Barcelona
  • MSc, Geological Engineering, University of Alicante + Barcelona
  • BSc, Geological Engineering, University of Alicante

Professional memberships

  • IAEG: International Association of Engineering Geology
  • ISRM: International Society of Rock Mechanics
  • GeolSoc: The Geological Society of London
  • BSG: British Society for Geomorphology
  • AGU: American Geosciences Union
  • EGU: European Geosciences Union
  • CUGS: Cambridge University Geographical Society
  • WG: World Geologists
  • APECS: Association of Polar Early Career Scientists
  • COIG: Spanish Association of Engineering Geologists

Student education

PhD student supervision (ongoing)

  • Xabier B. Blanch > University of Barcelona (2017-present) > Time-lapse | Photogrammetry | Rockfalls. Co-supervised with Prof. Marta Guinau.
  • Thomas Chudley > University of Cambridge (2017-present). Supervised by Poul Christoffersen
  • Nick. P. Toberg > University of Cambridge (2014-2018). Supervised by Poul Christoffersen

PhD students (previous): Ryan Kromer > Queen’s University (2015-2017) > 4D | Monitoring | Transportation Corridors | New algorithms. Co-supervised with Prof. Jean Hutchinson and Dr. Matthew Lato; Dario Carrea > University of Lausanne (2012-2017) > New algorithms | 3DPC | LiDAR | Rockfalls. Co-supervised with Prof. Michel Jaboyedoff; Adrian Riquelme > University of Alicante (2011-2015) > New algorithms | 3DPC | Fractures | LiDAR. Co-supervised with Prof. Roberto Tomas; Manuel J. Royán > University of Barcelona (2010-2015) > Rockfalls | Monitoring | 3DPC | Magnitude-Frequency. Co-supervised with Prof. Nue Vilaplana.

MSc students supervision (2018) | Engineering Geology @ Leeds [Alphabetically arranged]: Daniel Bennett: Simulation of Rock Falls; Brogan Delafield: Debris flow initiation; Emma Scholes: Glacier calving as proxy for rockfalls; Kieran Sproul: UAV and 3D point clouds in rock slopes; Dennis Wong: Landslide modelling using LiDAR



  1. Riquelme, A., Tomás, R., Cano, M., Pastor, J. L., & Abellán, A. (2018). Automatic Mapping of Discontinuity Persistence on Rock Masses Using 3D Point Clouds. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, 1-24. DOI: 1007/s00603-018-1519-9
  2. Tomás, R., Abellán, A., Cano, M., Riquelme, A., Tenza-Abril, A. J., Baeza-Brotons, F., . . . Jaboyedoff, M. (2018). A multidisciplinary approach for the investigation of a rock spreading on an urban slope. Landslides, 15(2), 199-217. DOI:1007/s10346-017-0865-0


  1. Kromer, R. A., Rowe, E., Hutchinson, J., Lato, M., & Abellán, A. (2017). Rockfall risk management using a pre-failure deformation database. Landslides, 1-12. DOI:1007/s10346-017-0921-9
  2. Eltner, A., Kaiser, A., Abellan, A., & Schindewolf, M. (2017). Time lapse structure-from-motion photogrammetry for continuous geomorphic monitoring. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 42(14), 2240-2253. DOI:1002/esp.4178
  3. Guerin, A., Abellán, A., Matasci, B., Jaboyedoff, M., Derron, M. -H., & Ravanel, L. (2017). Brief communication: 3-D reconstruction of a collapsed rock pillar from Web-retrieved images and terrestrial lidar data – the 2005 event of the west face of the Drus (Mont Blanc massif). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 17(7), 1207-1220. DOI:5194/nhess-17-1207-2017
  4. Voumard, J., Abellan, A., Nicolet, P., Penna, I., Chanut, M. -A., Derron, M. -H., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2017). Using street view imagery for 3-D survey of rock slope failures. NATURAL HAZARDS AND EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCES, 17(12), 2093-2107. DOI:5194/nhess-17-2093-2017
  5. Penna, I. M., Abellán, A., Humair, F., Jaboyedoff, M., Daicz, S., & Fauqué, L. (2017). The role of tectonic deformation on rock avalanche occurrence in the Pampeanas Ranges, Argentina. Geomorphology, 289, 18-26. DOI:1016/j.geomorph.2016.07.006
  6. Kromer, R. A., Abellán, A., Hutchinson, D. J., Lato, M., Chanut, M. -A., Dubois, L., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2017). Automated terrestrial laser scanning with near-real-time change detection – monitoring of the Séchilienne landslide. Earth Surface Dynamics, 5(2), 293-310. DOI:5194/esurf-5-293-2017
  7. Domènech, G., Corominas, J., Mavrouli, O., Merchel, S., Abellán, A., Pavetich, S., & Rugel, G. (2017). Calculation of the rockwall recession rate of a limestone cliff, affected by rockfalls, using cosmogenic chlorine-36. Case study of the Montsec Range (Eastern Pyrenees, Spain). Geomorphology. DOI:1016/j.geomorph.2017.04.005


  1. Eitel, J. U. H., Höfle, B., Vierling, L. A., Abellán, A., Asner, G. P., Deems, J. S., . . . Vierling, K. T. (2016). Beyond 3-D: The new spectrum of lidar applications for earth and ecological sciences. Remote Sensing of Environment, 186, 372-392. DOI:1016/j.rse.2016.08.018
  2. Longchamp, C., Abellan, A., Jaboyedoff, M., & Manzella, I. (2016). 3-D models and structural analysis of rock avalanches: the study of the deformation process to better understand the propagation mechanism. Earth Surface Dynamics, 4(3), 743-755. DOI:5194/esurf-4-743-2016
  3. Franz, M., Carrea, D., Abellán, A., Derron, M. -H., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2016). Use of targets to track 3D displacements in highly vegetated areas affected by landslides. Landslides, 13(4), 821-831. DOI:1007/s10346-016-0685-7
  4. Eltner, A., Kaiser, A., Castillo, C., Rock, G., Neugirg, F., & Abellán, A. (2016). Image-based surface reconstruction in geomorphometry – merits, limits and developments. Earth Surface Dynamics, 4(2), 359-389. DOI:5194/esurf-4-359-2016
  5. Riquelme, A. J., Tomás, R., & Abellán, A. (2016). Characterization of rock slopes through slope mass rating using 3D point clouds. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, 84, 165-176. DOI:1016/j.ijrmms.2015.12.008
  6. Carrea, D., Abellan, A., Humair, F., Matasci, B., Derron, M. -H., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2016). Correction of terrestrial LiDAR intensity channel using Oren–Nayar reflectance model: An application to lithological differentiation. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 113, 17-29. DOI:1016/j.isprsjprs.2015.12.004
  7. Sorrentino, V., Matasci, B., Abellan, A., Jaboyedoff, M., Marino, E., Pignalosa, A., & Santo, A. (2016). Rockfall susceptibility assessment of carbonatic coastal cliffs, Palinuro (Southern Italy). Rendiconti Online della Società Geologica Italiana, 41, 203-206. DOI:3301/ROL.2016.129
  8. Abellan, A., Derron, M. -H., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2016). “Use of 3D Point Clouds in Geohazards” Special Issue: Current Challenges and Future Trends. Remote Sensing, 8(2), 130. DOI:3390/rs8020130


  1. Matasci, B., Carrea, D., Abellan, A., Derron, M. -H., Humair, F., Jaboyedoff, M., & Metzger, R. (2015). Geological mapping and fold modeling using Terrestrial Laser Scanning point clouds: application to the Dents-du-Midi limestone massif (Switzerland). European Journal of Remote Sensing, 48(1), 569-591. DOI:5721/EuJRS20154832
  2. Humair, F., Abellan, A., Carrea, D., Matasci, B., Epard, J. -L., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2015). Geological layers detection and characterisation using high resolution 3D point clouds: example of a box-fold in the Swiss Jura Mountains. European Journal of Remote Sensing, 48(1), 541-568. DOI:5721/EuJRS20154831
  3. Guerin, A., Nguyen, L., Abellán, A., Carrea, D., Derron, M. -H., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2015). Common problems encountered in 3D mapping of geological contacts using high-resolution terrain and image data. European Journal of Remote Sensing, 48(1), 661-672. DOI:5721/EuJRS20154836
  4. Riquelme, A. J., Abellán, A., & Tomás, R. (2015). Discontinuity spacing analysis in rock masses using 3D point clouds. Engineering Geology, 195, 185-195. DOI:1016/j.enggeo.2015.06.009
  5. Royán, M. J., Abellán, A., & Vilaplana, J. M. (2015). Progressive failure leading to the 3 December 2013 rockfall at Puigcercós scarp (Catalonia, Spain). Landslides, 12(3), 585-595. DOI:1007/s10346-015-0573-6
  6. Kromer, R., Abellán, A., Hutchinson, D., Lato, M., Edwards, T., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2015). A 4D Filtering and Calibration Technique for Small-Scale Point Cloud Change Detection with a Terrestrial Laser Scanner. Remote Sensing, 7(10), 13029-13052. DOI:3390/rs71013029


  1. Abellán, A., Oppikofer, T., Jaboyedoff, M., Rosser, N. J., Lim, M., & Lato, M. J. (2014). Terrestrial laser scanning of rock slope instabilities. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 39(1), 80-97. DOI:1002/esp.3493
  2. Royán, M. J., Abellán, A., Jaboyedoff, M., Vilaplana, J. M., & Calvet, J. (2014). Spatio-temporal analysis of rockfall pre-failure deformation using Terrestrial LiDAR. Landslides, 11(4), 697-709. DOI:1007/s10346-013-0442-0
  3. Tonini, M., & Abellan, A. (2014). Rockfall detection from terrestrial LiDAR point clouds: A clustering approach using R. Journal of Spatial Information Science, (8). DOI:5311/JOSIS.2014.8.123
  4. Riquelme, A. J., Abellán, A., Tomás, R., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2014). A new approach for semi-automatic rock mass joints recognition from 3D point clouds. Computers & Geosciences, 68, 38-52. DOI:1016/j.cageo.2014.03.014
  5. Jaboyedoff, M., Oppikofer, T., Abellán, A., Derron, M. -H., Loye, A., Metzger, R., & Pedrazzini, A. (2012). Use of LIDAR in landslide investigations: a review. Natural Hazards, 61(1), 5-28. DOI:1007/s11069-010-9634-2
  6. Abellán, A., Vilaplana, J. M., Calvet, J., García-Sellés, D., & Asensio, E. (2011). Rockfall monitoring by Terrestrial Laser Scanning – case study of the basaltic rock face at Castellfollit de la Roca (Catalonia, Spain). Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 11(3), 829-841. DOI:5194/nhess-11-829-2011
  7. Abellán, A., Calvet, J., Vilaplana, J. M., & Blanchard, J. (2010). Detection and spatial prediction of rockfalls by means of terrestrial laser scanner monitoring. Geomorphology, 119(3-4), 162-171. DOI:1016/j.geomorph.2010.03.016
  8. Abellán, A., Jaboyedoff, M., Oppikofer, T., & Vilaplana, J. M. (2009). Detection of millimetric deformation using a terrestrial laser scanner: experiment and application to a rockfall event. Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 9(2), 365-372. DOI:5194/nhess-9-365-2009
  9. Vilajosana, I., Suriñach, E., Abellán, A., Khazaradze, G., Garcia, D., & Llosa, J. (2008). Rockfall induced seismic signals: case study in Montserrat, Catalonia. Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 8(4), 805-812. DOI:5194/nhess-8-805-2008
  10. Abellán, A., Vilaplana, J. M., & Martínez, J. (2006). Application of a long-range Terrestrial Laser Scanner to a detailed rockfall study at Vall de Núria (Eastern Pyrenees, Spain). Engineering Geology, 88(3-4), 136-148. DOI:1016/j.enggeo.2006.09.012

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute of Applied Geoscience

Postgraduate research opportunities

We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="//environment.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.