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Professor Stefan Nielsen

Professor, Director of Postgraduate Studies


AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor, Director of Postgraduate Studies in the Department of Earth SciencesRm 340+44 (0) 191 33 44308


2003 – 2013 — Senior Researcher, Istituto Nazionale di Geofsica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Dpt. of Seismology and Tectonophysics.

2009 — Invited professor, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris (Laboratoire de Géologie du Département géosciences

2000 – 2002 — Researcher, Istituto Nazionale di Geofsica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Dpt. of Seismology and Tectonophysics. Detached to the University of Napoli Federico II, Dpt. Scienze Fisiche.

1997 – 1999 — Research Associate at University of California, Santa Barbara (Physics Dpt. and Institute for Crustal Studies).

1996 – 1997 — Marie Curie postdoctoral grant of the European Community, Dpt. of Geophysics and Volcanology, University of Napoli Federico II, Italy.

1994 – 1996 — Post-doctoral fellow of the SCEC (Southern California Earthquake Center, U.S.C.), at Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles.

1990 – 1993 — PhD, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris

Career Research Highlights

My central interest is in dynamics of earthquake rupture. I am exploring the rupture process using tools like laboratory experiments, numerical modeling and field geology. One of the main questions I am trying to answer is what is the frictional behavior of faults during the fast and short earthquake slip episodes? How can it affect the rupture propagation and hazardous seismic radiation? I order to shed light on these questions I started to work several years ago with scientists from different backgrounds. We created an international group with specialties ranging from field structural geology and microstructures of faults, laboratory methods to deform rocks at high speed and analytical/numerical methods to help upscale the results from the small scale of the lab (rock samples of a few cm) to the large scale (natural seismic fault dimensions can reach tens of kilometers).

Committee and Society Service

2011 — Member of the International Earth Science Olympiad comitate 5th edition (IESO 2011)

2010 — Reviewer for ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche)

2010 — JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) - Review College

2012 — Czech Science Foundation (GACR) Review College


1996 — Marie Curie European Fellowship

1994 — SCEC (Southern California Earthquake Center) Fellowship , postdoctoral grant

Invited Talks

2011 — Experimental and field constraints on seismic source models – Invited talk. S. Nielsen, The second QUEST Workshop, Hveragerdi, Iceland 

2010 — Reconstructing features of earthquake dynamics from field and experimental observations – Invited talk. Nielsen, Stefan; Griffith, W Ashley; Di Toro, Giulio; Niemeijer, Andre; Smith, Steven A F. Annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (2010)

2010 — Photo-acoustic study of supershear ruptures in the laboratory – Invited talk. Nielsen, S, Schubnel, A , Taddeucci, J, Vinciguerra, S and Rao, S. 7th ACES International Workshop, OTARU, Japan

2010 — Creating earthquake avatars in the laboratory – Invited talk. Nielsen, S. Albert Tarantola Homage Workshop, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris

Recent and Current Grants

2011 – 2012 — Program GALILEO: Experimental study on propagation of earthquake rupture – INGV Co-ordinator for project, with collaborators at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris

2008 – 2013 — USEMS project: Uncovering the Secrets of an Earthquake, a Multidisciplinary Study – INGV Research Co-ordinator

2003 – 2005 — Towards a unified vision of geophysical phenomena – Research Co-ordinator, P.I.: A. Piersanti, INGV

2005 — Progetto di studio della sorgente sismica a partire da affioramenti di faglie fossili (Study of seismic sources from exhumed fault zones) – Co-PI

Research groups

  • Geodynamics Research Group
  • Geohazards
  • Structural Research Group


Journal Article

Supervision students