Dr John Elliott

Dr John Elliott


2016-present Royal Society University Research Fellow (URF)
2016-present University Academic Fellow (UAF)
Active Tectonics, Earthquakes & Faulting, Seismic Hazard & The Rise of Mountains
Institute of Geophysics & Tectonics, School of Earth & Environment, University of Leeds

2014-2016 Post-Doctoral Researcher - Geodesy and Geophysics (NERC)
Centre for the Observation & Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes & Tectonics (COMET+)
& Earthquakes without Frontiers (EwF) - Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards (IRNH)
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, OX1 3AN

2013 (3 month) Stipendiary Lecturer in Earth Sciences, University College, Oxford

2013-2015 Visiting Researcher, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol

2009-2014 Post-Doctoral Researcher - Geodesy and Geophysics
National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO/NERC), Earth Sciences, Oxford

2012 (3 month) Post Doctoral Visitor, Tectonics Observatory, Caltech, USA

2006-2011 Undergraduate Tutor - geophysics & seismology for five Oxford University colleges

Postdoctoral Advisor

  • Ruth Amey (2018-2020) – Research Fellow in Active Tectonics of the Tien Shan.
  • Dr Ekbal Hussain (2017-2018) – Research Fellow for Seismic Cities.

PhD Lead supervisor

  • Jack McGrath (2018-present) – Relationship between short-term tectonics & mountains.
  • Andrew Watson (2018-present) – Co-evolution of Mountain Building & Seismic Hazard.
  • Fei Liu (2019-present) – Measuring earthquakes across the global continents from space & seismology.

PhD Students Co-supervised

  • Pedro Espin (2020-present) – Earthquake and Volcanic Hazard in Quito and Ecuador.
  • Lin Shen (2016-present) – Altyn Tagh Interseismic Deformation.
  • Pawan Piromthong (2016-present) –  Faulting in South-East Asia and InSAR analysis.
  • Eleanor Ainscoe (2014-2018) – Active tectonics in regions of shortening (Oxford).

Research interests

My research addresses where and how the Earth's crust accommodates and releases tectonic stress. I achieve this through measuring the deformation of the crust using satellite geodesy, and integrating these measurements with seismology, remote sensing and field studies of active faulting.

I want to understand the relationship between earthquakes, crustal deformation and landscape evolution. In particular, I am interested in addressing the problems of faults and earthquakes a) as a natural hazard and b) as a key mechanism for the growth of mountains and the role they play in shaping the deformation of the continents over geological time. I use the latest Earth Observation technologies that provide big, high resolution datasets over a large spatial extent to make precise measurements of wide-scale active tectonic processes. I want to change the way seismic hazard and risk associated with distributed deformation is assessed as a critical step towards the goal of improving earthquake forecasting for societies living in tectonically active regions. I also want to relate current observations of active tectonics to what is recorded in the longer term geological record to constrain the evolution of the Earth's crust.

<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>


  • DPhil, Geophysics, University of Oxford
  • MSci, Geological Sciences, University of Cambridge
  • BA, Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge

Professional memberships

  • 2006-present Member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Student education

Undergraduate Courses Taught

I contribute to the following modules:

  • Module leader for Research Seminars in Geophysics (2017-20).
  • Field instructor for Practical Geophysics in Lanzarote (2017-2019).
  • Lecturer for Global Geophysics - Plate Tectonics (2017).

Undergraduate Final Year Research Projects Supervised

  • 2019 Victoria  Purcell | Lava Field Subsidence Three Hundred Years On, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
  • 2018 Matthew Day | Detecting small shallow continental earthquakes with InSAR
  • 2018 Daniel Roberts | Digital Elevation Models of Lava Flows and Volcanic Craters in Lanzarote
  • 2017 Katherine Woods | How small can we go? - Improving limits to detecting continental earthquakes.
  • 2016 Nadia Duarte da Silva Tavares | Remote Offset Measurements of the Kaikoura Earthquake, NZ.
  • 2016 Scott Smith | Using InSAR & Body Wave Seismology of the 2016 Mw 5.9 Menyuan Earthquake.

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics
  • Geodynamics 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>