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Professor Keith Priestley

Professor Keith Priestley

Emeritus Professor

Geophysics, Geodynamics and Tectonics.


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Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 337195

Research Interests

My research focuses on the structure and mechanical behavior of the Earth's crust and upper mantle.  This work uses seismology to construct images of the internal structure of the Earth which can then be used to test hypotheses of the Earth's evolution and dynamics.  Although my research has depended heavily on publicly-available seismic data, much of my work is based on seismic data collected in my own field experiments in Iceland, New Zealand, Hawaii, Greece, Turkey, Chile and much of the Middle East and central Asia.  I combine my seismic results with advances in geochemistry, petrology, and mineral physics to relate the measured seismic wave speeds to temperature and composition.  This has allowed me to produce the first thickness maps of the lithosphere, the cold boundary layer near the Earth's surface which controls the Earth's heat loss and the tectonics of the oceans and continents.  These lithospheric maps show how extensive regions of thick lithosphere have controlled the geometry of continental deformation; they have also provided significant new insights on the formation and evolution of the continents.

Current research projects:

Inversion of large seismic data sets for the examination of the structure of the Earth's upper mantle,

The relationship between upper shear-wavespeed, temperature and rheology of the upper mantle,

Structure of the lithosphere and its influence on the evolution of the continents,

Earth structure, earthquakes and large-scale physical process of the Arabian-Eurasian and Indo-Eurasian continental collision zones.


CAM2016 is a group of global upper mantle models based on multi-mode surface wave tomography. These models include an upper mantle Vsv model CAM2016Vsv derived from the waveform modelling of ~2 million vertical component Rayleigh waveforms, an upper mantle Vsh model CAM2016Vsh from the waveform modelling of ~0.5 million transverse component Love waveforms, a radial anisotropic model CAM2016Xi derived from the waveform modelling of ~0.25 million Rayleigh and Love waveforms, and a lithospheric thickness model CAM2016Litho. All models are defined on a 2 degree by 2 degree grid. Vsv and Vsh models are given for several lateral smoothing lengths. The models determined with the shorter smoothing length are applicable to the shallower depths while the models determined with the larger smoothing length are more appropriate to the deeper depths. The 1D reference models for CAM2016 are at


Geophysics ; Seismology

Key Publications

Recent publications can be found in the publications database here