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Department of Earth Sciences

Waveform tomography
density imaging


Nienke Blom is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Seismology at the Department of Earth Sciences, working in the group of Nick Rawlinson. Her main focus is imaging the Earth's interior using seismic waveform inversion and state-of-the-art high performance computing. This work is applied in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean and in Southeast Asia. She is also interested in the effect of uncertainties in assumed knowledge on the inversion process, as well as the application of knowledge on density to (joint) inversion approaches. She did her PhD at Utrecht University between 2013-2017, working with Andreas Fichtner (ETH Zurich) as her main supervisor. Previously, during her Masters programme, she also worked with Arwen Deuss (then at the University of Cambridge, now in Utrecht) on the seismic structure of the Earth's inner core.

Apart from her research, Nienke is often involved in teaching and outreach activities. In Utrecht, she regularly worked as a teaching assistant to several courses in the Earth Sciences curriculum and helped design/develop and adapt of some of these. She has also been involved in outreach, giving tours of the Utrecht department to school classes and giving layman's lectures. Both in Utrecht and Cambridge she has been responsible for organising regular series of talks; currently she is a member of the EGU Seismology division Early Career Scientist representative team and regularly writes for the EGU Seismology blog.


As a part of her research, Nienke visualises the effect of heterogeneities on the seismic wavefield. In the video below, you can see how a density anomaly may influence the propagation of seismic waves, and in turn the seismogram recorded at the other end:


Her most recent work is a seismic model of the Central and Eastern Mediterranean using waveform tomography, which exploits the full seismic wavefield to reconstruct the interior of the Earth. This model is visualised in the following video, where you see the S velocity model. The highlighted slab-like feature that is dipping towards the north-east is interpreted as the Aegean slab -- the part of the African plate that is subducting beneath Europe.



Seismic tomography

Waveform tomography

Density imaging

Thermochemical inversion

Inverse theory


Key publications: 

Teaching and Supervisions

Research supervision: 

Supervising of PhD student Deborah Wehner (2018-current): Adjoint waveform tomography in Southeast Asia.

Research Associate
 Nienke  Blom

Contact Details

Bullard Laboratories - Wolfson Building (room 56)
Department of Earth Sciences
University of Cambridge
Madingley Road
+44 (0) 1223 337062


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