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Emma Clare Smith

Emma Clare Smith

Ph.D. Candidate 2011-2015

Geophysics, Seismology, Glaciology

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 337186



  • 2011-2015: PhD - Glaciological Geophysics - University of Cambridge and British Antarctic Survey.

Dissertation Topic: Microseismicity and the Dynamics of Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica.

  • 2008-2009: MSc - Exploration Geophysics - University of Leeds. 

Dissertation Topic: Warm Ice Distribution in Polythermal Glaciers by Velocity Analysis of Ground Penetrating Radar. This work was supervised by Dr. Roger Clark and Prof. Tavi Murray.

  • 2004-2008: MEng - Electronic Engineering with Music Technology Syestems - University of York 

Ph.D. Dissertation:

Supervisors: Prof. Bob White and Dr. Andy Smith (British Antarctic Survey) 

  • Investigating the conditions and dynamics at the base of Rutford Ice Stream (RIS) using passive microseismic monitoring.
  • 3000 microseismic events were detected and located, in discrete spatial clusters near the ice-bed interface of RIS.
  • Location of these events was constrained by synthetic modelling to investigate the source of errors in location.
  • The source mechanism for the events is interpreted as sub-horizontal, low-angle faulting, slipping in the ice flow direction.
  • Cluster locations are interpreted as ‘sticky spots’ of stiff basal sediment at the ice-bed interface, where ice movement is accommodated by stick-slip basal sliding.
  • Shear wave splitting in the signals has been used to determine properties of the ice fabric of RIS informing both the deformation history and the future response of that ice to the stresses induced by ice flow.

Research Interests

  • Ice stream dynamics: in particular, the basal dynamics that accommodate ice stream flow and how these are related to sub-glacial sediment characteristics and properties. How passive seismics generated at the ice-bed interface of ice streams can be used to investigate this.
  • Ice fabric properties: the formation of ice crystal fabrics under different stress regimes and how these can be investigated using passive seismics, active seismics and radio echo sounding.
  • Ice geophysics: particularly the use of active and passive seismics and radio echo sounding in glacial environments.

Key Publications

Smith, E.C., A.M. Smith, R.S. White, A.M. Brisbourne and H.D. Pritchard (2015), Mapping the Ice-Bed Interface Characteristics of Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica, Using Microseismicity, J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surf. , 120, doi:10.1002/2015JF003587.