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Department of Earth Sciences


Impact Cratering is an important planetary and geological process, affecting the surface of almost all planets and satellites in the solar system. Studying impact cratering is challenging because the Earth's impact record has been severely affected by other geological processes and impact structures on other planets can only realistically be studied by remote sensing techniques. Furthermore, all of the processes in an impact cratering event cannot be simultaneously reproduced by experiments in the laboratory. Numerical impact simulations provide a way to investigate the dynamics of impact cratering at scales unachievable in the laboratory, however, numerical impact simulations rely upon a good understanding of the physical processes during cratering and upon comparison with observational and experimental results.

My work combines observational and experimental methods with numerical modelling to understand the highly dynamic processes associated with impacts. More specifically, in recent years, my research has focussed on dynamic rock failure, complex crater formation, and shock metamorphism.


2019-Present: Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College, University of Cambridge

2019-Present: Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Institute of Geology at the University of Freiburg

2018: Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial College London

2014-2018: PhD in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial College London

2010-2014: BA and MSci in Natural Sciences (Earth Sciences) at the University of Cambridge


Key publications: 

Rae et al. (2020) Dynamic Compressive Strength and Fragmentation in Felsic Crystalline Rocks. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, e2020JE006561. 10.1029/2020JE006561.

Kring et al. (2020) Probing the hydrothermal system of the Chicxulub impact crater. Science Advances 6(22), eaaz3053. 10.1126/sciadv.aaz3053.

Collins et al. (2020) A steeply-inclined trajectory for the Chicxulub impact. Nature Communications 11(1). 1-10. 10.1038/s41467-020-15269-x.

Timms et al. (2020) Shocked titanite records Chicxulub hydrothermal alteration and impact age. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 281, 12-30. 10.1016/j.gca.2020.04.031.

Agarwal et al. (2019). Impact experiment on gneiss: The effects of foliation on cratering process. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 124 (12), 13532-13546. 10.1029/2019JB018345.

Gulick et al. (2019) The first day of the Cenozoic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116 (39), 19342-19351. 10.1073/pnas.1909479116.

Rae et al. (2019) Impact‐induced porosity and microfracturing at the Chicxulub impact structure. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 124.7, 1960-1978. 10.1029/2019JE005929.

Timms et al. (2019) New shock microstructures in titanite (CaTiSiO5) from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact structure, Mexico. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 174(5), 38. 10.1007/s00410-019-1565-7.

Rae et al. (2019) Stress‐Strain Evolution during Peak‐Ring Formation: A Case Study of the Chicxulub Impact Structure. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 124.2, 396-417. 10.1029/2018JE005821.

Riller et al. (2018) Rock fluidization during peak-ring formation of large impact structures. Nature, 562(7728), 511. 10.1038/s41586-018-0607-z.

Christeson et al. (2018) Extraordinary rocks from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact crater: P-wave velocity, density, and porosity measurements from IODP/ICDP Expedition 364. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 495, 1-11. 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.05.013.

Lowery et al. (2018) Rapid recovery of life at ground zero of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. Nature, 558(7709). 288.10.1038/s41586-018-0163-6.

Holm-Alwmark et al. (2017) Combining shock barometry with numerical modeling: Insights into complex crater formation—The example of the Siljan impact structure (Sweden). Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 52(12), 2521-2549. 10.1111/maps.12955.

Rae et al. (2017) Complex crater formation: Insights from combining observations of shock pressure distribution with numerical models at the West Clearwater Lake impact structure. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 52(7), 1330-1350. 10.1111/maps.12825.

Morgan et al. (2016) The formation of peak rings in large impact craters. Science, 354(6314), 878-882. 10.1126/science.aah6561.

Rae et al. (2016) Time scales of magma transport and mixing at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai’i. Geology, 44(6), 463-466. 10.1130/G37800.1.

Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College
Dr Auriol  Rae

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