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Prof Gillian Foulger

Emeritus Professor of Geophysics

B.A., M.A., M.Sc., Ph.D.

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Emeritus Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences  
Professorial Fellow of St Chad's College +44 (0) 191 33 42314


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2004 – present — Professor, University of Durham.

1997 – 2004 — Reader, University of Durham.

1992 – 1993 — Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey.

1985 – 1997 — Lecturer in Geophysics, University of Durham.

1985 — Post Doctoral RA, Dept. Geological Sciences, Univ. Durham.

1985  — Ph.D. Geophysics (Durham)

1978 — M.A. (Cambridge)

1977 – 1984 — Research Scientist, Geophysics Division, University of Iceland.

1976 — M.Sc. Geophysics (Durham) 

1974  — B.A. Natural Sciences (Cambridge)

Committee and Society Service

2004 – 2009 — Steering Committee for the Large Igneous Provinces Commission of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI).

2005 — Scientific committee member, SAL2005 Workshop on Ocean Island Volcanism, Cape Verde Republic

Committee member, NERC Geophysical Equipment Pool

Member, NASA Earth Observation System (EOS) Evaluation Panel

Durham University representative, Universities Navstar Consortium (UNAVCO)

Durham University interview panels in Earth Science, Physics, Mathematics, Engineering and Archaeology

Member, St. Mary’s & St. Chad’s Colleges governing bodies

Conferences and Workshops

2005  The Great Plume Debate, Chapman Conference held in Scotland, sponsored by the American Geophysical Union.

2004 — Convener and chair, special session “Plumes or not?”, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco

2003 — Initiated and convened Plume IV: Beyond the Plume Hypothesis, a Penrose Conference held in Iceland, and sponsored by the Geological Society of America.


2005 — Fellow, Icelandic National Academy of Sciences

2001 — Sir James Knott Research Fellow

1993 — Nuffield Foundation Fellow

Invited Keynotes

2007 — "Iceland: What we know and what we don't" at the Rift to Ridge IODP meeting in Southampton

Membership of Organisations and Societies

Fellow, Icelandic National Academy of Sciences

Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society

American Geophysical Union

Society of Exploration Geophysicists

International Association of Geodesy

Prizes & Awards

2005 — Price Medal, Royal Astronomical Society

University of Durham Sir James Knott Research Fellowship

Research interests

  • crustal deformation using the Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • earthquake seismology
  • geothermal prospecting
  • Iceland tectonics and structure

Research groups

  • Climate and Environmental Change
  • Geoenergy, Resources and Waste
  • Geohazards
  • Geophysics Research Group

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Earth Sciences: Earthquakes, earthquake damage, building resilience
  • Earth Sciences: Volcanoes, volcanic eruptions, ash plumes, impact on society
  • Earth Sciences: Geothermal energy
  • Earth Sciences: The controversy regarding the origin of "hot spots" such as Hawaii and Iceland
  • Earth Sciences: Iceland
  • Earth Sciences: Plate tectonics
  • Earth Sciences: Fracking, and industrially induced earthquakes


Authored book

  • Foulger, GR (2010). Plates vs Plumes: A Geological Controversy. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Foulger, G.R. (1984). The Hengill geothermal area seismological studies 1978-1984. Reykjavik: Science Institute, University of Iceland.

Chapter in book

Conference Paper

Edited book

  • Foulger, G. R. & Jurdy, D. M. (2006). Plumes, Plates, and Planetary Processes. Geological Society of America Special Paper, in preparation.
  • Foulger, G.R., Natland, J. H., Presnall, D. C. & Anderson, D. L. (2005). Plates, Plumes, and Paradigms. Geological Society of America Special Paper.

Journal Article


  • Foulger, G.R (1994). The 1992 Basin & Range Province GPS survey: 2. The field survey. U.S. Geological Survey. U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Julian, B.R & Foulger, G.R (1994). The 1992 Basin & Range Province GPS survey: 1. Point descriptions. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report. U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Foulger, G.R (1994). The 1992 Basin & Range Province GPS survey: 3. Data processing and results. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report. U.S. Geological Survey.