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Tom Lees

Research Postgraduate (PhD)

Research Postgraduate (PhD) in the Department of Geography


  • 2020 - present: PhD Researcher, Durham University
  • 2012 - 2020: Engineering Geologist, Southern Testing Laboratories Ltd
  • 2011 - 2012: MSc Engineering Geology, University of Portsmouth
  • 2010 - 2011: Mudlogging Geologist, Geoservices Ltd
  • 2006 - 2010: MSci Geoscience, Durham University
Research Interests

My research focusses on how weather conditions affect the mechanical properties of rocks. I am investigating how daily and seasonal changes in the weather affect the development of microcracks within rocks. Over time, as these microcracks accumulate, the rock weakens, and eventually could fail, resulting in a rockfall. The rate at which this damage develops may change as climates change.

My work combines laboratory and field-based experiments with numerical modelling. In the laboratory I am conducting 'environmentally controlled' rock damage testing. My field experiment listens to cracking as it occurs in rocks, and matches the timing and location of cracking to complex patterns in weather conditions. The results from the laboratory and field experiments will be used to inform the numerical modelling, in which I will scale up the observed behaviours to cliff-sized rock slopes.

Research interests

  • Progressive rock failure
  • Rock mechanics
  • Engineering geology
  • Rock weathering
  • Rock slope failure
  • Landslides