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Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the Environment



James Jackson is an earth scientist, with most of his work aimed at understanding the deformation and geological evolution of the continents. He uses earthquakes, space-based geodesy and imagery, as well as observations of landscape and Quaternary geology, to investigate the tectonic processes that shape the continents. His understanding of fault behaviour has had an impact on structural geology, tectonics, earthquake hazards and hydrocarbon exploration.

His field work has taken him to many parts of the Alpine–Himalayan mountain belt in Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, as well as to Africa, New Zealand and North America. He is increasingly involved in how to use the insights obtained by geologists to reduce the appalling risk from earthquakes to populations in developing countries.

He is part of the Dynamic Earth and Geohazards group (formerly the COMET project), part of the National Centre for Earth Observation, and the Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes and Tectonics.

He is also the lead PI on the Earthquakes Without Frontiers Project, a joint NERC-ESRC consortium supporting a partnership of physical and social scientists working to help increase resilience to earthquakes in countries in Asia. This partnership brings together a group of earth scientists with a long track record in integrated earthquake science, social scientists that have extensive experience in exploring the vulnerability and resilience of communities in disaster-prone regions, and experienced practitioners in the communication of scientific knowledge to policy makers to work on three overarching objectives:

  • To provide transformational increases in knowledge of the distributions of primary and secondary earthquake hazards in the continental interiors.
  • To identify pathways to increased resilience in the populations exposed to these hazards.
  • To secure these gains over the long term by establishing a well-networked, trans-disciplinary partnership for increasing resilience to earthquakes.

Currently Professor of Active Tectonics and Head of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, James has published numerous papers and received many accolades. These include being awarded a fellowship of the American Geophysical Union in 2003 and the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society in 2015.

Professor of Geophysics, Geodynamics and Tectonics,
Head of the Department Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
Professor James  Jackson
Not available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
resilience to earthquakes
structural geology and plate tectonics
understanding the deformation and geological evolution of the continents