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Prof Peter Sammonds
Department of Earth Sciences
University College London
Gower St
Tel: 020 7679 2422
  • Professor of Geophysics
  • Dept of Earth Sciences
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences
Head of Department
Research Summary
My research aims are to investigate the mechanics of the Earth's crust and ice sheets by studying the fundamental physics and mechanics of geological materials. The Earth's crust and ice sheets are the parts of the solid Earth with which humankind interact directly, and therefore of the greatest interest to me. I particularly do research directed towards studying the impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

The scientific methodology and approach I employ is that of experimental rock physics. This is a novel approach, which integrates the disciplines of rock mechanics with rock physical properties measurement. Laboratory experiments are important in the Earth Sciences, because it is only in the laboratory that environmental conditions can be independently, systematically varied and monitored. The measurement of physical parameters in the lab is not only important in the material science sense, but also because they are routinely monitored by geophysical techniques on a crustal scale. I work closely with colleagues modelling large-scale earth processes and am a member of the UCL Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling - CPOM and an associate member of the Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre 

Principally I work in the Rock and Ice Physics Laboratory at UCL. The Laboratory's mission is to understand the evolution and dynamics of the Earth's ice sheets, crust and mantle through theoretical modelling and laboratory experiments on the mechanical and physical properties of minerals, rocks and ice. There are about 20 members of the Laboratory and we run seven experimental labs. We have a £2.5 million equipment base and are supported by over £2 million of current peer-reviewed funding. We design and build our own testing systems which we sell through the Laboratory's company, Rock Physics Systems Ltd. 
Teaching Summary

MSc (GEOLGH07/GG09) and MSci 4th year (GEOL4002) course: Earthquake Seismology and Earthquake Hazard
3rd year course (GEOL3030): Field Methods in Active Tectonics
Field teaching:
I lead the 3rd year 2 week geophysics field techniques course to the Abruzzo Range and Vesuvius, Italy.
I lead the 2nd year 5 day geological field techniques course to the Marche, Italy.
I teach on the 1st year short field sedimentology course to Norfolk.
I have also taught in the past:
C450 Glaciology & Environment, 3rd year course
C463 Earthquake Seismology, 3rd/4th year course
C441 Earthquake Seismology & Rock Mechanics (3rd yr geophysics course)
B252 Geodynamics (2nd yr geophysics course)
B254 Earth Physics (2nd yr geophysics course)
Geological field work (1st year), Marche, Italy

1999 – 1999 Visiting Professor Earthquake Research Institute University of Tokyo, Japan
1992 – 2001 University Research Fellow   The Royal Society, United Kingdom
1991 – 1992 JSPS Research Fellow Earthquake Research Institute University of Tokyo, United Kingdom
Academic Background
1988 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Geophysics University College London
1981 BSc Bachelor of Science – Chemical Physics University of Bristol
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