PhD Studentship: Smart and Rugged - Developing a Unique Geophysical Monitoring Station for Extreme Environments that Identifies Important Data (JOHNSONUENV18NEX)

University of East Anglia

Start date: October 2018

Primary supervisor: Dr Jessica Johnson

Project Rationale:

Primary hazards from earthquakes and volcanoes often trigger a cascade of linked hazards that affect a wide area. Ash from volcanic eruptions can impact air traffic, crops and livestock, and can alter the climate. Large submarine earthquakes can trigger devastating tsunami. Even if the tectonically active areas are remote, these areas need to be closely monitored to mitigate risks and further understand the way hazards are generated and evolve. Monitoring of remote regions poses many issues such as durability, maintenance, data storage and power (Martinez et al., 2006). Thus many areas that have the potential to cause widespread devastation are not geophysically monitored. This project will develop a unique geophysical monitoring station that records a suite of important geophysical data. The station will also recognise signals of interest and transmit only this data back to headquarters, therefore reducing storage and power requirements. This station will increase the capability of studying and monitoring remote regions such as the Arctic and Antarctic, Africa, South America and the Himalayas.


The objective of this project is to fabricate a rugged geophysical monitoring station that can be deployed in extreme environmental conditions to transmit useful data. The student will examine existing geophysical monitoring networks, technology and data to identify essential characteristics for the monitoring station. They will work with colleagues at UEA, BAS and UoS to formulate a specification, identify existing instruments and other hardware, and develop appropriate software for the station. The student will determine instruments to include e.g. seismometer, GNSS, gravimeter and/or magnetometer.

Specific objectives for this PhD are:

  • Develop software to automatically recognise (“trigger”) data of note.
  • Identify and utilise appropriate power supply for the station.
  • Identify and utilise an appropriate communication method for data transfer.

The product will be applicable to a range of tectonically active, remote settings. A pilot deployment will be determined by the student, and they will analyse the tectonic activity of a region for the first time, adding valuable data and knowledge to our hazard assessment of the area.


Degree in Engineering, Geophysics, Mathematics, or Physics (minimum 2:1 or equivalent)


The NEXUSS CDT provides state-of-the-art, highly experiential training in the application and development of cutting-edge Smart and Autonomous Observing Systems for the environmental sciences, alongside comprehensive personal and professional development. There will be extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial/government/policy partners. The student will be registered at University of East Anglia, hosted at the School of Environmental Sciences. Specific training will include:

  • Geophysical data handling
  • Computer programming
  • Geophysical equipment use
  • Geophysical research fieldwork
  • Numerical modelling of geophysical processes
  • Presentation of research at international conferences and workshops

Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC/EPSRC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources. 

For further information, please visit

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South East England