Dr Adam Booth

Dr Adam Booth


Geophysical survey holds the key to understanding the physical properties of the subsurface, and how they may evolve through time. I work with applications of near-surface geophysics - the range of the subsurface 'in the zone of human interaction'. I conduct a range of engineering and environmental surveys, but also work in glaciology to characterise snow, ice and the subglacial environment. I have undertaken seismic surveys at both poles to understand ice structure, and led a NERC Urgency project to characterise the deformation of Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf in the aftermath of the 2017 iceberg calving event.  I am a Co-I on the NERC/NSF funded TIME project, researching controls on the evolution of the margins of Antarctia's Thwaites Glacier and will be undertaking Antarctic deployments from 2021.  In summer 2019, I joined the Scott Polar Research Institute's RESPONDER project, conducting the first seismic acquisitions using Distributed Acoustic Sensing on the Greenland Ice Sheet.

This experience leveraged the purchase by the University of Leeds of two distributed sensing interrogators, supported by Research England. These will be used to explore urban geothermal resources in the NERC SmartRes project, as well as experimental earthquake detection at Eskdalemuir in Scotland. We are keen to collaborate widely on the development of fibre-optic methods in a variety of geophysical settings.

Elsewhere, I worked on the NERC/FAPESP-funded Nordeste project to use ground penetrating radar methods in the investigation of subsurface biomass in Brazil's caatinga biome, and have initiated ecological applications of geophysics to study the habitats of burrowing mammals. This research was featured in the BBC's 'Animals with Cameras' documentary. I have also contributed to a number of archaeological projects, notably in the Egyptian and Omani deserts, and at UK sites including Whitby Abbey, Raglan Castle and Elsecar Heritage Action Zone.

Since 2020, I have been an Associate Editor for the EGU’s journal “The Cryosphere”.  I was involved with the activities of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers, serving for 10 years as an Associate Editor for “Near Surface Geophysics”, and twice as project manager for their "Geophysics Boot Camp" field acquisition courses. I also sit on the committee of the GeolSoc's Near Surface Geophysics Group, where I convene the Postgraduate Symposia and our annual fieldwork fund

I am a member of Leeds’ Institute for Applied Geoscience, its GeoSolutions centre, and am an Associate Director of water@leeds with specific responsbilities for Next Generation development.

I am also keenly interested in research communication, and developed the public engagement programme Quantum Sauce in collaboration with a local events team. To boost accessiblity to science data, partiuclarly for users with visual impairment or neurodiverse conditions, I also work with colleagues in Mechanical Engineering and the School of Design to produce tactile resources to support the public engagement with geophysical data – work also supported by Research England.   


  • MSc Exploration Geophysics - Programme Leader and Admissions Tutor
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Associate Editor - The Cryosphere (EGU publication)

Research interests

Key to much of my research is the transfer of geophysical practice across different geoscience disciplines - what can one branch of geophysics learn from practice in another? A good example is my use of seismic reflectivity (AVO) methods, commonly applied to industrial seismic datasets, to characterise material in the subglacial environment. I am interested in any approach that improves the accuracy, and characterises the precision, of a geophysical interpretation, including multi-platform joint inversion strategies. My reserch has diverse applications at various depth ranges: from the shallowest-buried animal tunnels, through archaeological applications, into kilometre-thick ice sheets and subsurface reservoirs. I am also keen to explore pedagogic and perceptive research that benefits the public understanding of geoscience.


A sample of my past and present research projects is listed below:

2022-2025 - NERC NE/X005496/1 – Smart Assessment, Management and Optimisation of Urban Geothermal Resources (SmartRes) (£453k).

2022-2025 - NERC NE/X000257/1 – Monitoring and Characterising Three Subglacial Lakes beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet (SLIDE) (£15k).

2022-2023 - Research England – Touching the Past: A participatory research approach to broadening access to heritage data (£26k).

2021-2022 - NERC – Making Environmental Science Equal, Diverse and Inclusive – Developing a virtual geophysics field trip (£58k).

2021 - National Productivity Investment Fund – Purchase of a Distributed Geophysical Sensing System (£382k). 

2020-2022 - University of Leeds Collaboration Fund – Transforming the UK’s rail infrastructure: a multi-disciplinary study on its past, present and future state (£30k). Co-Investigator.

2020-2021 - Royal Society International Exchange IES\R3\193115 - Computers in the Cyrosphere: machine learning approaches to characterise glacier seismicity. (£11k).  

2019-2022 - NERC Standard Grant NE/R010838/1 - Impact of deep subglacial groundwater on ice stream flow in West Antarctica (IGIS) (£610k). Project Partner.

2019-2020 - Royal Society Research Grant RGS\1\191100 - The inner workings of glacier ice: novel insight from borehole seismic techniques (£20k).  

2018-2023 - NERC/NSF Thwaites Call NE/S00677X/1 - Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME) (£358k).  Co-Investigator.

2017-2018 - NERC Urgency Grant NE/R012334/1 - Ice shelf response to large-scale iceberg calving (£65k).

2017-2021 - NERC Industrial CASE Studentship NE/P009492/1 - Glaciological applications of seismic full waveform inversion (£88k).


Research Group - post-docs:

Dr Emma Smith – Research Fellow in Antarctic Seismology


Research Group - PhD students:

Emma Pearce - Density assessment of ice masses using seismic Full Waveform Inversion. Project co-supervised by Sebastian Rost, with NERC CASE support from ION-GXT and partnership with BAS (now at British Antarctic Survey).

Hannah Watts - Geophysical investigation of proglacial geomorphology; project led by Benny Reinardy, Stockholm University, and co-supervised by Bill Murphy.

Ronan Agnew - Applications of converted wave seismology in characterising the base-ice environment.  NERC PANORAMA DTP, project co-supervised by Roger Clark and Alex Bribourne (British Antarctic Survey).

Andrew Pretorius - Machine learning applications in the characterisation of passive DAS recordings of englacial seismicity. NERC/NSF Thwaites Call NE/S00677X/1, project co-supervised by Sjoerd de Ridder and Andy Nowacki.

Carl Sellers - Environmental resilience of heritage structures; project based in Leeds Civil Engineering, led by Ana Heitor in Civil Engineering.

<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, Near Surface Geophysics, University of Leeds
  • MSc, Exploration Geophysics, University of Leeds
  • BSc, Geophysical Sciences, University of Leeds

Professional memberships

  • European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE)
  • Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG)
  • European Geosciences Union (EGU)
  • International Society for Archaeological Prospection (ISAP)
  • Geological Society of London
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Student education

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, having completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in January 2022.  I am the Programme Leader of MSc Exploration Geophysics, and contribute to the following modules in SEE

  • Lecturer - SOEE5017 Geological Investigation and Characterisation
  • Practical Instructor - SOEE5166 Seismic Data Processing
  • Fieldwork Instructor - SOEE5141 Near Surface Geophysics


Research groups and institutes

  • Applied Geophysics
  • Institute of Applied Geoscience
  • Geosolutions Leeds
  • 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>