Dr Emma Bramham

Dr Emma Bramham


I am currently a lecturer in Applied Geophysics and Structural Geology within the Institute of Applied Geosciences. My current research has two key focuses: geothermal energy across a range of low and high enthalpy settings and the potential for heat, cooling and energy storage in the subsurface and its potential role in the energy transition; volcanic systems and magmatically driven faulting both on Earth and on other planets such as Mars and Venus, using surface structures to model sub-surface systems and tectonic behaviour and understanding key similarities and differences across the range of terrestrial planets in our solar system.

Prior to starting my lectureship, I completed my PhD (LiDAR and InSAR analysis of deformation in the Krafla rift zone, NE Iceland) at Leeds working with Profs. Tim Wright and Douglas Paton as part of the COMET+ Afar consortium. The project involved investigating post-rifting surface deformation in the active Krafla volcanic region in Iceland and understanding fault growth behaviour in the associated fissure swarm using a combination of InSAR, LiDAR and GPS data analysis. In turn, this followed on from a career as an offshore geophysicist, working in the North Sea, North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, acquiring and processing 2D and 3D seismic surveys of the subsurface.

Research interests

My current research particularly focuses on surface behaviour and sub-surface linkage to magmatically driven faulting, specifically in volcanic systems on Mars, such as Alba Patera, and understanding key links and differences between Martian systems and those of other planets, such as the Icelandic volcanic systems on Earth.

Some of the projects I am currently pursuing:

  • Development of models of fault behaviour in active rifting regions with the aim of both linking to the underlying controllling plumbing system and identifying key ways of understanding sub-surface systems from patterns in surface structure
  • Deciphering sub-surface volcanism on planets such as Mars using surface geomorphology and data such as CTX, MOLA and HiRISE.
  • Examining elastic dislocation trends when applying stress to segmented fault systems to better understand potential future failure and hazard
  • Investigating differences and similarities between Martian and Terran volcanic systems to better understand key controlling parameters using a combination of 3D seismic, LiDAR, CTX and MOLA data
  • Understanding the influence of data resolution on interpretation and analysis of results and consequent analogue comparisons
<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, Geophysics and Structural Geology, University of Leeds
  • MSc, Marine Geotechnics, School of Ocean Sciences, UCNW)
  • BSc, Physics with Astrophysics, University of Leeds

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society

Student education

I am currently the Program Leader for the MSc Structural Geology with Geophysics and my key teaching commitments align with the MSc. I manage and teach on the Applied Geophysics, Integrated Sub Surface Analysis and Individual Project modules - with the latter involving engaging and working with our our industry collaborators to develop projects for the MSc students to complete each summer. I am also involved with student fieldwork and with the supervision of many of the Structural Geology with Geophysics MSc projects.

Research groups and institutes

  • Basin Structure
  • Applied Geophysics
  • Geodynamics and Tectonics
  • Institute of Applied Geoscience
  • Planetary Exploration
  • Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics
  • Geosolutions Leeds

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>