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Dr Alex Copley

Dr Alex Copley


Geophysics, Geodynamics and Tectonics

Bullard Labs
Madingley Rise,
Madingley Road,

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 337101

Research Interests

Current Research

Observing and modelling continental tectonics. 

My work focuses on documenting and understanding the active deformation of the Earth's continents, from the scale of individual earthquakes to entire mountain ranges and plate boundary zones. I am particularly interested in constraining the sizes and origins of the forces driving continental tectonics, and investigating the material properties of the lithosphere. Between them, these quantities play a first-order role on controlling important features of the world around us, such as the sizes and shapes of mountain ranges and depressions, and the locations of earthquakes. I pursue these topics using a combination of observations of active deformation (e.g. in earthquakes), and also numerical modelling to investigate the underlying forces. Areas of current research include:

- Using observations of the seismic waves generated by earthquakes, and the analysis of radar data collected by satellites, to produce maps of the amount and distribution of slip in earthquakes.

- Constraining the material properties of active fault zones, and the continental lithosphere at large, using the slip distribution in earthquakes and the subsequent postseismic deformation.

- Documenting the longer-term deformation of the continents using observations of the geomorphology produced by repeated slip in earthquakes.

- Using numerical models to understand the large-scale deformation of the continents.

- Estimating the sizes of the forces driving the motions of the tectonic plates by performing force-balance calculations.

Key Publications