Dr Antonio Abellan

Dr Antonio Abellan


I joined the University of Leeds in 2018 as Lecturer in Engineering Geology & Geohazards, after completing an independent research fellowship at the University of Cambridge (EU-H2020 Marie-Sklodowska-Curie), an extensive postdoctoral position at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), a guest professorship at Eichstätt University (Germany) and an adjunct assistant professorship at Queens University (Canada).

I have been instrumental in the writing of more than 30 publications in leading international journals such as Landslides, Engineering Geology, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, Computers & Geosciences, Remote Sensing, etc., and I presented my research outcomes in more than 40 conferences, symposiums and invited talks. I have been involved in the organizing and scientific committee of multiple workshops and conferences at national and international level - including session chairing - and holds responsibilities on the Editorial Board of Computers & Geosciences journal (Elsevier) since 2017.

I have attracted more than €650k from externally funded research grants and fellowships along my career, including several projects successfully funded by the National and European Science Foundations (e.g. Switzerland, Spain and the UK), both as a main applicant and co-applicant. I actively evaluate research project proposals in different European and Canadian Science foundations and supervised an excellent team of 7 PhD students along my career.

Concerning my background education, I gained a European Doctorate with honours (magna cum laude) at the University of Barcelona, that included extended research stays in Durham and Lausanne Universities, and I was awarded with a 1st class honours in MSc in Geological Engineering at the University of Alicante & Barcelona, obtaining an extraordinary award at national level (2nd-highest-ranking student).

Research interests

I am 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.

Grants (€340k)

  • 2018 | Equipment funding: slope monitoring (co-applicant)
  • 2018 | Alan Turing Institute + Leeds Institute for Data analytics (co-applicant)
  • 2015 | Scientific Expedition: Herbette Foundation (co-applicant)
  • 2014-2015 | Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (co-applicant)
  • 2012-2014 | Research project: Swiss National Science Foundation (co-applicant)
  • 2011-2012 | Research project: Swiss National Science Foundation (co-applicant)

Prizes, Awards and Fellowships (€320k)

  • 2016-2018 | Marie Curie: Independent Research Fellowship: EU H2020 Program (main applicant)
  • 2015 | Most remarkable geospatial professionals under 40, XYhT Int. Journal
  • 2013 | Summer School on Landslide Modelling & Early Warning Systems: Travel Award
  • 2009 | Academic award: PhD Thesis with European Mention
  • 2004-2008 | PhD Fellowship in an open competitive call (FPU program, Spain)
  • 2007 | PhD Mobility Fellowship: hosting institution: Univ. Lausanne
  • 2006 | PhD Mobility Fellowship: hosting institution: Host: Univ. Durham
  • 2004 | European Geosciences Union: Travel Award
  • 2003 | Prize: Second-highest-ranking student at national level
  • 2002 | Mobility Fellowship in an open competitive call (Seneca program, Spain)
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Remote Sensing of Rockslope Instabilities & Engineering Geology, University of Barcelona
  • MSc (Distinction), Geological Engineering, University of Alicante + Barcelona
  • BSc (1st class honours), Geological Engineering, University of Alicante

Professional memberships

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

Student education

I welcome interests from postgraduate students in any of my research area, especially in any of the following topics:

  • 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.

Different PhD fellowships and opportunities are advertised on the Institute PhD pages and the Leeds York NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Current PhD students:

  • Xabier B. Blanch > University of Barcelona (2017-present). Co-supervision with Prof. Marta Guinau.
  • Thomas Chudley > University of Cambridge (2017-present). Lead supervisor: Poul Christoffersen (Scott Polar Research Institute). Advisory role
  • Nick. P. Toberg > University of Cambridge (2014-2018). Lead supervisor: Poul Christoffersen (Scott Polar Research Institute). Advisory role
  • (Student with part-time industrial commitments) Dario Carrea > University of Lausanne (2012-2019) > New algorithms | 3DPC | LiDAR | Rockfalls. Co-supervised with Prof. Michel Jaboyedoff;
  • (PhD awarded in 2017)  Ryan Kromer > Queen’s University (2015-2017) > 4D | Monitoring | Transportation Corridors | New algorithms. Co-supervised with Prof. Jean Hutchinson and Dr. Matthew Lato; 
  • (PhD awarded in 2015) Adrian Riquelme > University of Alicante (2011-2015) > New algorithms | 3DPC | Fractures | LiDAR. Co-supervised with Prof. Roberto Tomas;
  • (PhD awarded in 2015) Manuel J. Royán > University of Barcelona (2010-2015) > Rockfalls | Monitoring | 3DPC | Magnitude-Frequency. Co-supervised with Prof. Nue Vilaplana.

MSc students supervision:



  1. Chudley, T. R., Christoffersen, P., Doyle, S. H., Abellan, A., and Snooke, N.: High accuracy UAV photogrammetry of ice sheet dynamics with no ground control, The Cryosphere, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-256, 2019.


  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
  3. 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.
  4. Corbí, H, Riquelme, A., Megías-Baños, C, Abellan, A. (2018). 3D morphological change analysis of a beach with seagrass berm using a Terrestrial Laser Scanner. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 7(7), 234. DOI: 10.3390/ijgi7070234


  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


  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

  • Rock mechanics, Engineering geology and hydrogeology
  • River Basin Processes and Management
  • Institute of Applied Geoscience
  • Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>