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Research interests

I am interested in the growth of active normal faults and how their slip-rates and growth control earthquake recurrence and seismic hazards. Active faults make beautiful landscapes, but kill people through building collapse.

Research gallery: photographs and news

Research roles

Current research

I am currently seismic hazard working in Italy and Greece. The work involves:

  • Structural geology fieldwork and mapping, concentrating on the geometry, kinematics and rates of deformation of active normal faults, and utilising kinematic measurements, shallow geophysics and LiDAR laser scanning.
  • Quaternary and Holocene dating of deformed geomorphology, through study of Holocene fault scarps and Quaternary marine terraces, using 36Cl cosmogenic exposure dating and U/Th coral dating.
  • Observations and modelling of rivers deformed by active normal faults.
  • Developing theoretical and numerical models of fault growth.

I am also working on Martian faults as exceptional exposure aids understanding of terrestrial faults. I am involved in studying deformation of the surface of Mars using NASA (MOLA; MOC; VIKING; HiRISE) data.

NERC Research funding 2016/17

    • Determining uplift to investigate and establish seismic hazard of normal, thrust and subduction faults throughout southern Italy and Greece. Prof. G. Roberts, J. Robertson, M. Meschis.[NERC Ref. IP-1734-0517. £48,000]
    • 36Cl in situ cosmogenic dating of uplifted wave-cut platforms above the Ionian Subduction Zone, Sicily. [NERC Ref. 9171/1016, £21,823]
    • Using uplift to investigate normal and subduction-related active faulting along the western Hellenic subduction zone. Prof. G. Roberts, J. Robertson. [NERC 9161/1015, £28,643]

Research funding 1990 - 2012

  • 9) STFC Standard Grant ST/K006037/1. InSIGHT Mars Seismometer.

    8) NERC Consortium Grant NE/J016497/1. Probability, Uncertainty and Risk in the Natural Environment.

    7) NERC Standard Grant NE/I024127/1. Earthquake hazard from 36-Cl exposure dating of elapsed time and Coulomb stress transfer. Lead P.I. Dr. G. P. Roberts, Local P.I.s Dr. K. McCaffrey – Durham - NE/I026715/1, Dr. R. Phillips – Leeds - NE/I02318X/1, Prof. John McCloskey - Ulster - NE/I02433X/1. £888,983. (2012-2015). Starts Feb 2012.

    6) NERC Urgency Grant NE/H003266/1. A LiDAR and field study of surface rupture and post-seismic slip for the 6th April 2009 L’Aquila Earthquake (M6.3). Dr. K. McCaffrey, Dr. G. P. Roberts, Prof. P. Cowie. £67,184. (April 2009-May 2010).

    5) NERC Standard Grant NE/E01545X/1. Testing Theoretical models for Earthquake Clustering using 36Cl Cosmogenic Exposure Dating of Active Normal Faults in Central Italy. Dr. P. Cowie, Dr. G. P. Roberts, Dr. K. McCaffrey £554,466. (October 2007-2010).

    4) NERC Standard Grant NE/B504165/1. Integrated field and numerical test of stream erosion models using the transient response of bedrock rivers to tectonic forcing. Dr. P. Cowie, Dr. G. P. Roberts. £149,476. (October 2004-2008).

    3) NERC Small Grant GR9/02995. Understanding non-uniform earthquake recurrence intervals associated with rupture of small portions of larger faults: implications for evaluating seismic risk. Dr. G. P. Roberts. £21,882. (July 1997-July 1999)

    2) NERC Small Grant GR9/01034. Deformation processes in transfer zones along active normal faults. Dr. G. Roberts. £6697. (July 1993-July 1995).

    1) NERC Research Fellowship GTS/F/90/GS/8. Deformation and diagenetic histories around neotectonic and ancient extensional fault zones. Dr. G. P. Roberts. (1990-1992) (£6000 field work money, £2000 lab-costs and £28000 for two years salary).

NERC Facility bids

  • 2) NERC Ref. IP/657/0300. Earthquake Hazards Calibrated with U/Th Dating, Greece. Prof. J. McArthur,  Ms. S. Houghton,, Dr. G. P. Roberts, Dr. P. van Calsteren.. £15,000

    1) NERC Ref. IP/787/0902. Earthquake hazards calibrated using U/Th dating, Greece (part II), Prof. J. McArthur,  Ms. S. Houghton (Birkbeck/UCL) PhD Student, Dr. G. P. Roberts, Dr. P. van Calsteren. £20,000

Other funding

  • 7) Faculty of Science Research Grant. Spatial and temporal variations in slip-rates on active faults responsible for destructive earthquakes around the Gulf of Corinth, Greece, derived from stratigraphic studies of late Quaternary sediments. Dr. G. P. Roberts, Dr. C. Underwood. Birkbeck, £7000.

    6) Central Research Fund of the University of London. Field studies of uplifted marine terraces in southern Italy: implications for seismic hazards. Dr. G. P. Roberts, Prof. J. McArthur, Ms. S. Houghton, £2000.

    5) Birkbeck College Research Fund. A combined ground penetrating radar (GPR), shallow seismic refraction and geological study of active faults in central Italy. (£6000). Dr. Gerald Roberts, Dr. Charlie Bristow, Chris Jewell (January 2002).

    4) Birkbeck College Research Fund. Structures responsible for halting earthquake ruptures. Funded by (£5000). (July 1995-July 1996).

    3) Central Research Fund of  the University of London. Palaeo-seismological studies of thrusts in the French Alps. (£2000). (September 1993-September 1994).

    2) Academic Studies Group. Structural geology and seismic hazards in the Jordan Rift. (~£2000). (April 1995).

    1) British Petroleum Ph.D. Studentship for my own Ph.D. in 1987 (~£30,000).

PhD studentship funding

  • 6) NERC Studentship. Joanna Faure Walker. Mechanics of continental extension from Quaternary velocity fields in the Italian Apennines. (October 2006, October 2009). Dr. Gerald Roberts; Prof. Peter Sammonds.

    5) Greek Government and Benfield-Greig Reinsurance Plc. Ioannis Papanikolaou. Seismic hazards and active faulting. PhD. Studentship. (c. £45,000). October 1999-2002. Dr. Gerald Roberts with Prof. Bill McGuire.

    4) NERC Studentship Robin Pilcher. Structure of the Huqf Uplift: implications for the tectonics of the eastern Oman. Funded jointly by a ~£25000 from NERC with donations from Petroleum Development Oman (PDO). (~£5000). (October 1993-September 1996). Dr. Neil Harbury, Dr. G. P. Roberts.

    3) Birkbeck College Research Studentship. Chris Tiratsoo (c. £15,000). (Oct. 1996-Oct. 1999). Dr. Gerald Roberts.

    2) Birkbeck College Research Studentship. Nigel Morewood (c. £15,000). (Oct. 1996-Oct. 1999). Dr. Gerald Roberts.

    1) Petroleum Science Technology Institute Ph.D. Studentship. Ann-Marie Scott (~£30,000) plus money for a microscope (£15,000) in 1991. Dr. Gerald Roberts


Gerald Roberts