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Dr David Wallis

Dr David Wallis

University Lecturer

Rock deformation

Microstructural analysis

Structural geology



David Wallis is accepting applications for PhD students.

David Wallis is available for consultancy.


2020–present: University Lecturer, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Head of the Microgeodynamics Research Group

Manager of the high-temperature and sample-preparation laboratories

Lecturer in structural geology, mineralogy, and fieldwork

2017–2020: Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University

Principle Investigator in the Structural Geology and Electron Microscopy Group

2016–2017: Research Associate, University College, University of Oxford

2015–2017: Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford

Advisors: Dr. Lars Hansen and Prof. Angus Wilkinson

Project: A new method for mapping stresses in mantle rocks: Dislocation density from electron backscatter diffraction

2010–2014: Ph.D. (Geology), School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds

Supervisors: Dr. Richard Phillips and Dr. Geoff Lloyd

Thesis: Micro-geodynamics of the Karakoram Fault Zone, Ladakh, NW Himalaya

2006–2010: MSci. Honours Degree in Geoscience (Geology), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Durham

Supervisors: Dr. Mark Allen and Dr. Jonathan Imber

Thesis: Deformation within the basal units of the Lizard ophiolite, SW Cornwall: A combined field and microstructural study

Research themes

Mineral Sciences :

Research Interests

The Microgeodynamics Group in the Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Cambridge, tackles problems in rock deformation from the crystal-lattice to lithospheric-plate scales. We develop and employ advanced microanalytical techniques to decipher the processes of rock deformation. High-angular resolution electron backscatter diffraction (HR-EBSD) provides a key tool for quantifying distributions of dislocations and stress heterogeneity within grains. We combine such microstructural analyses with rock deformation experiments to develop a new generation of microphysical models of deformation processes. Analyses of key field sites allow us to up-scale laboratory results to establish the role of microscale processes in macroscopic geodynamics.

We maintain close links with collaborators at a range of institutions, including Utrecht UniversityUniversity of Minnesota, and University of Oxford.


earthquake geology ; Mineralogy ; Petrology ; Mineral Physics ; Ice Dynamics ; Microscopy ; microstructure

Key Publications


Wallis, D., Hansen, L.N., Kumamoto, K.M., Thom, C.A., Plümper, O., Ohl, M., Durham, W.B., Goldsby, D.L., Armstrong, D.E.J., Meyers, C.D., Goddard, R., Warren, J.M., Breithaupt, T., Drury, M., and Wilkinson, A.J. (2020) Dislocation interactions during low-temperature plasticity of olivine and their impact on the evolution of lithospheric strength. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 543, 116349, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116349.

Hansen, L.N., David, E.C., Brantut, N., and Wallis, D. (2020) Insight into the microphysics of antigorite deformation from spherical nanoindentation. In: McCaig, A., Kelemen, P., Früh-Green, G., and Teagle, D. (Eds.) Serpentinite in the Earth System, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 378, 20190197, DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2019.0197.

Ohl, M., Plümper, O., Charzaras, V., Wallis, D., Vollmer, C., and Drury, M. (2020) Mechanisms of fault mirror formation in carbonate rocks. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 530, 115886, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2019.115886.


Wallis, D., Hansen, L.N., Britton, T.B., and Wilkinson, A.J. (2019) High-angular resolution electron backscatter diffraction as a new tool for mapping lattice distortion in geological minerals. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 124, 6337–6358, DOI: 10.1029/2019JB017867.

Hansen, L.N., Kumamoto, K.M., Thom, C.A., Wallis, D., Durham, W.B., Goldsby, D.L., Breithaupt, T., Meyers, C., and Kohlstedt, D.L. (2019) Low-temperature plasticity in olivine: Grain size, strain hardening, and the strength of the lithosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 124, 5427–5449, DOI: 10.1029/2018JB016736.

Wallis, D., Hansen, L.N., Tasaka, M., Kumamoto, K., Lloyd, G.E., Parsons, A.J., Kohlstedt, D.L., and Wilkinson A.J. (2019) The impact of water on dislocation content and slip system activity in olivine and the formation of bimodal crystal preferred orientations. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 508, 51–61, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.12.007.

Wallis, D., and Searle, M.P. (2019) Spatial and temporal distributions of deformation in strike-slip faults: The Karakoram Fault in the India-Asia collision zone. Duarte, J.C. (Ed.) Transform Plate Boundaries and Fracture Zones, Elsevier, 271–300, DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-812064-4.00011-6.

Wallis, D., Parsons A.J., and Hansen, L.N. (2019) Quantifying geometrically necessary dislocations in quartz using HR-ESBD: Application to chessboard subgrain boundaries. In: Hippertt, J., Alsop, I., Dunne, W., Passchier, C., and Takeshita, T. (Eds.) Back to the Future: 40 years of Structural Geology and Beyond, Journal of Structural Geology 40th Anniversary Special Issue, 125, 235–247, DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2017.12.012.


Ambrose, T.K., Wallis, D., Hansen, L.N., Waters, D.J., and Searle, M.P. (2018) Controls on rheology of peridotites at a palaeosubduction interface: a transect across the base of the Oman-UAE ophiolite. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 491, 193–206, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.03.027.

Qi, C., Hansen, L.N., Wallis, D., Holtzman, B.K., Kohlstedt, D.L. (2018) Crystallographic preferred orientation of olivine in sheared partially molten rocks: the source of the “a-c switch”. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 19, 316–336, DOI: 10.1002/2017GC007309.

Wallis, D., Lloyd, G.E., and Hansen, L.N. (2018) The transition from dislocation-mediated to frictional deformation of marbles within the Karakoram Fault, NW India. Journal of Structural Geology, 107, 25–37, DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2017.11.008.


Kumamoto, K.M., Thom, C., Wallis, D., Hansen, L.N., Armstrong, D.E.J., Warren, J.M., Goldsby, D.L., and Wilkinson A.J. (2017) Size effects resolve debate in 40 years of work on low-temperature plasticity in olivine. Science Advances, 3, e1701338, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701338.

Wallis, D., Hansen, L.N., Britton, T.B., and Wilkinson, A.J. (2017) Dislocation interactions in olivine revealed by HR-EBSD. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 122, 7659–7678, DOI: 10.1002/2017JB014513.

Boneh, Y., Wallis, D., Hansen, L.N., Krawczynski, M.J., and Skemer, P. (2017) Oriented grain growth and modification of ‘frozen anisotropy’ in the lithospheric mantle. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 474, 368–374, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.06.050.


Wallis, D., Hansen, L.N., Britton, T.B., and Wilkinson, A.J. (2016) Geometrically necessary dislocation densities in olivine obtained using high-angular resolution electron backscatter diffraction. Ultramicroscopy, 168, 3445, DOI: 10.1016/j.ultramic.2016.06.002.

Britton, T.B., Jiang, J., Guo, Y., Vilalta-Clemente, A., Wallis, D., Hansen, L., Winkelmann, A., and Wilkinson, A.J. (2016) Tutorial: Crystal Orientations and EBSD – or which way is up? Materials Characterization, 117, 113–126, DOI: 10.1016/j.matchar.2016.04.008.

Wallis, D., Carter, A., Phillips, R.J., Parsons, A.J., and Searle, M.P. (2016) Spatial variation in exhumation rates across Ladakh and the Karakoram: new apatite fission track data from the Eastern Karakoram. Tectonics, 35, 704–721, DOI: 10.1002/2015TC003943.


Wallis, D., Lloyd, G.E., Phillips, R.J., Parsons, A.J., and Walshaw, R.D. (2015) Low effective fault strength due to frictional-viscous flow in phyllonites, Karakoram Fault Zone, NW India. Journal of Structural Geology, 77, 45–61, DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2015.05.010.


Wallis, D., Phillips, R.J., and Lloyd, G.E. (2014) Evolution of the Eastern Karakoram Metamorphic Complex, Ladakh, NW India, and its relationship to magmatism and regional tectonics. Tectonophysics, 626, 41–52, DOI: 10.1016/j.tecto.2014.03.023.

Wallis, D., Parsons, A.J., Phillips, R.J., Searle, M.P., and Ferré E. (2014) Comment on "Interplay of deformation and magmatism in the Pangong Transpressional Zone, Eastern Ladakh, India: Implications for remobilization of the trans-Himalayan magmatic arc and initiation of the Karakoram Fault" by K. Sen, B.K. Mukherjee and A.S. Collins, Journal of Structural Geology 62 (2014) 13–24. Journal of Structural Geology, 65, 117–119, DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2014.03.008.


Wallis, D., Phillips, R.J., and Lloyd, G.E. (2013) Fault weakening across the frictional-viscous transition zone, Karakoram Fault, NW Himalaya. Tectonics, 32, 5, 1227–1246, DOI: 10.1002/tect.20076.