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Prof Jim McElwaine

Professor of Geohazards


AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor of Geohazards in the Department of Earth SciencesRm 333+44 (0) 191 33 42286


2013 – present — Professor of Geohazards, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University.

2012 – 2013 — Senior Research Scientist, Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, Davos

2012 — Research Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia

2011 – present — Senior Scientist, Planetary Science Institute, Tucson Granular and fluid dynamics on Earth and other planetary bodies.

2001 – 2012 — Senior Research Associate, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. Royal Society University Research Fellowship and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Advanced Research Fellowship

2003 – 2005 — Visiting Scientist, Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, Davos.

1996 – 2001 — European Union Research Fellow, Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University

Conferences and Workshops

2009 — co-Chair; Institute of Mathematics Granular Dynamics Workshop, Cambridge.

2009 — Scientific Committee; KITP programme on Granular Matter.


2004 — EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship (PI)

2001 — Royal Society University Research Fellowship (PI)

Recent and Current Grants

2012 — Swiss Science Foundation

"High Resolution Radar Imaging of Snow Avalanches"

2012 — WSL

"Advanced Radar Imaging and Air Pressure Analysis of Snow Avalanches"

2010 — The Royal Society

"The Dynamics of Washboard Road"

2008 — NERC Standard grant

"Geophysical Flow Dynamics Using Pulsed Doppler Radar"

2008 — US Department of Defense

"The Role of eIF4E Activity in Breast Cancer"

Research interests

  • Avalanches
  • Turbidity Currents
  • Segregation
  • Gravity Currents
  • Granular Flows
  • Debris Flows
  • Two-Phase Flows

Research groups

  • Geodynamics Research Group
  • Geohazards

Awarded Grants

  • 2017: Scaling and design of laboratory experiments to understand environmental flows(£40249.00 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)


Chapter in book

  • Meiburg, Eckart, McElwaine, Jim N. & Kneller, Ben (2012). Turbidity Currents and Powder Snow Avalanches. In Handbook of Environmental Fluid Dynamics, Volume One. Fernando, H. 1: 557-573.
  • J. N. McElwaine & K. Nishimura (2001). Ping-pong ball avalanche experiments. In Particulate Gravity Currents. W. D. McCaffrey, B. C. Kneller & J. Peakall Blackwell Science. 135-148.
  • J.N. McElwaine (1999). Numerical simulation of Ping-pong ball flows. In Sukiijanpudai jikken to sanjigen ryuushiryuu moderu kaihatu ni yoru nadare ryuudou kikou no kaimei. K. Nishimura Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University. 33-45.
  • J.N. McElwaine (1998). Air Flow and Snow Transport though Aboreal Wind Breaks. In koutsuukankyou o kaizensuru tame no shinrin ni yoru fubuki no hosoku ni kansuru jisshouteki kenkyuu. Hokkaido National Forestry Research Centre and Hokkaido University Institute of Low Temperature Science. 44-49.

Conference Paper

  • Ash, M., Tanha, M. Ardeshir, Brennan, P. V., McElwaine, J. N., Keylock, C. J. & others (2015), Practical implementation of a 16-channel C-band phased array radar receiver, 2015 IEEE Radar Conference IEEE. 66-70.
  • Ash, M. J., Brennan, P. V., Vriend, N. M., McElwaine, J. N. & Keylock, C. J. (2011), Two-Dimensional FMCW Radar Imaging of Entire Avalanche Events, 5th IASME / WSEAS International Conference on Geology and Seismology (GES '11). Cambridge, England, WSEAS, Cambridge, 153-157.
  • Ash, M. J., Brennan, P. V., Vriend, N. M., McElwaine, J. N. & Keylock, C. J. (2011), FMCW Phased Array Radar for Automatically Triggered Measurements of Snow Avalanches, 2011 European Microwave Week. Manchester, UK, Horizon House Publication, London.
  • Ash, M. Brennan, P. V. Chetty, K. McElwaine, J. N. & Keylock, C. (2010), FMCW Radar Imaging of Avalanche-Like Snow Movements, 2010 IEEE International Radar Conference. Arlington, Virginia, IEEE, Piscataway, 102-107.
  • Brennan, P. V., Ash, M., Isa, F. M., Keylock, C. & McElwaine, J. N. (2009), Advanced Radar Imaging of Geophysical Flows, in Trilling, L., Perkins, D., Dionysios, D., Perlovsky, L., Davey, K., Landgrebe, D., Marino, M. A., Russell, D. L., Collicott, S. H., Ceccarelli, M. & Lund, J. W. eds, Mathematics and computers in science and engineering a series of reference books and textbooks 3rd IASME/WSEAS International Conference on Geology and Seismology, Cambridge, Feb. 24-26, 2009. Cambridge, WSEAS Press, 144-147.
  • Turnbull, B. & McElwaine, J. N. (2009), Potential Flow Models of Suspension Current Air Pressure, in Bartelt, P. & Schweizer, J. eds, International Symposium on Snow and Avalanches. Manali, India, SASE, Chandigarh, 286-296.

Conference Proceeding

  • J. N. McElwaine & B. Turnbull (2006). Plume Theories Versus Compact Models for Powder Snow Avalanches. Sixth International Symposium on Stratified Flows, Perth, December 11-14, 2006.
  • D. Issler, C. B. Harbitz, K. Kristensen, K. Lied, A. S. Moe, M. Barbolini, F. V. De blasio, G.Khazaradze, J. N. McElwaine, A. L. Mears, and M. Naaim & R. Sailer (2005). A comparison of avalanche models with data from dry-snow avalanches at Ryggfonn. Landslides and Avalanches ICFL 2005 Norway, Taylor \& Francis Ltd.
  • J.N. McElwaine (2004). Image Analysis For Avalanches. Snow and avalanche test sites, Cemagref.
  • J. N. McElwaine & K. Nishimura (2000). Size Segregation in Snow Avalanches: Observations and Experiments. IUTAM Symposium on Segregation in Granular Flows IUTAM, Dordrecht, Kluwer.
  • A. Hachikubo, J. N. McElwaine, M. Nemoto, T Kaihara & K. Nishimura (1999). A study of an avalanche at the ski resort Niseko, Japan. Proceedings International Snow Science Workshop, Sunriver, Oregon 1998.
  • K. Nishimura, Y. Ito, S. Keller, J. N. McElwaine, Y. Nohguchi, K. Izumi & K. Kawada (1998). Snow Avalanche Dynamics: Observations and Experiments. 25 Years of Snow Avalanche Research, Voss 12-16 May, Oslo, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute.

Doctoral Thesis

  • Anjum, Hafiz Junaid Anjum & McElwaine, JN (2014). Numerical modelling of compositional and particle-driven gravity currents. PhD.
  • McElwaine, J. N. (1996). Approximate Consistency and Prediction Algorithms in Quantum Mechanics. DAMTP, Cambridge University. PhD.

Journal Article

Other (Print)

  • J.N. McElwaine (1998). Random Hamiltonian Models and Quantum Prediction Algorithms. quant-ph/9812051


  • B. Sovilla, U. Gruber, F. Tiefenbacher, M. Hiller, A. Felber, B. Turnbull, M. A. Baillifrad, J. N. McElwaine, K. Platzer, M. Kern, F. Dufour & P. Bartelt (2005). Avalanche dynamics experimental site "VAllée de la Sionne" Arbaz, Valais: Final Report Winter 2003/2004. SLF, Flüelastrasse 11, Davos 7260, Switzerland.
  • J.N. McElwaine (2005). Calibration and Design of Multi-hole Pitot Probes for Snow Avalanches.
  • J.N. McElwaine (2003). Filming Avalanches.

Supervision students