I combine remote sensing, detailed field investigation, earthquake studies, and Quaternary dating to quantify the distribution, rates, and evolution of active faulting in deforming regions. Comparisons of tectonic strain on timescales ranging from individual earthquakes, through the 10,000 to 100,000 year age ranges visible in active landscapes, to the total strain recorded in the geology, are vital for obtaining a complete picture of the life-cycle of active tectonic processes.
During my PhD, supervised by James Jackson at Cambridge University, I produced the most complete regional picture of the active faulting currently available for eastern Iran. Remote sensing and field observations of the geomorphology and geology yielded a picture of strain distribution on a timescale much longer than allowed by using records of earthquakes from the past ~100 years. An outline of my PhD research into the active tectonics of eastern Iran can be found here.
Currently, I am working to expand the use of Quaternary dating techniques for quantifying crustal deformation. In a successful pilot project funded by the Royal Society, and in collaboration with Dr. Morteza Fattahi of Tehran University, I have used luminescence dating to measure the slip-rate, averaged over the last ~10,000 years, on four large seismically active faults in Iran (e.g. Fattahi et. al. 2006, Fattahi et. al. in press). Many of the populated parts of Iran have long records of seismicity and yet virtually nothing is known about the average interval between earthquakes in individual areas. Estimates derived from our study have direct societal benefits, by providing the average interval between events, as well as delivering information important for understanding the past environment and tectonics.
As well as in Iran – where I retain a keen interest – I am also involved in field research in Mongolia, Tibet, Taiwan and Greece. Recent projects include – but are not restricted to – studies of individual destructive earthquakes, determination of slip-rate on major earthquake-generating faults, reconnaissance mapping of active faults using remote sensing, studies of the active tectonics of large regions, and the use of precise GPS surveying to measure low-amplitude and long wavelength deformation of the Earth’s surface. Please refer to my list of publications for further details.