skip to primary navigationskip to content

E346 Seismic imaging of the crust-mantle system in southeast Asia (Lead Supervisor: Nicholas Rawlinson, Earth Sciences)

*Please note this project is fully funded and includes a bursary of £5K per year to spend on travel and equipment.*

Supervisors: Nicholas Rawlinson (Earth Sciences) and Robert White (Earth Sciences)

Importance of the area of research:

Southeast Asia is one of the most tectonically active regions on Earth, and exhibits rapid plate motion, intense seismicity and frequent volcanism. The primary driver is collision of Sundaland, the southern part of the Eurasian plate, with the Australian-Indian plate. Accommodation of the collision is not limited to the Sunda Arc, which wraps its way around the southern limits of the Indonesian archipelago, but extends over 1000 km north into the back-arc region. A range of features can be found throughout the influence zone, including transfer of material at subduction zones, ingestion of microcontinents, lateral escape, island arcs, subduction roll-back and abundant magmatism. While many of these features have been illuminated using a variety of seismic imaging methods, further work is required to successfully link crust and mantle structure and dynamics.

Project summary:

The goal of the project is to carry out seismic imaging in targeted regions of southeast Asia using pre-existing and new datasets. Regions with dense array coverage will be favoured, as this will allow crust and upper mantle structure to be jointly constrained. New imaging techniques will be applied and developed, including those that allow for the joint inversion of passive and active source datasets, and where applicable, full waveform inversion. The imaging results produced by this project will help to fill in gaps in our understanding of how large-scale collision processes produce tectonic complexity in an extensive back-arc region. Note: The project is fully funded and includes a bursary of £5K per year to spend on travel and equipment.

What the student will do:

Under the guidance of the two supervisors, the student will identify pre-existing datasets that can be exploited, and the appropriate methodology to be applied. In addition, the possibility exists to be involved in the collection and processing of new data that can be included in the project. Once all the data are assembled, the student will develop a workflow for the construction of 3-D models of seismic properties such as P and S wavespeeds based on advanced inversion methodology. Interpretation of the results forms a crucial part of the project, so the student will need to become familiar with the large scale geology of southeast Asia, and be able to include evidence from GPS, potential field, geochronology etc. in order to develop a complete tectonic synthesis. Dissemination of results via publications and presentations at conferences forms an integral part of the project.

Please contact the directly for further information relating to what the successful applicant will be expected to do, training to be provided, and any specific educational background requirements.


Hall, R. and Spakman, W., Mantle structure and tectonic history of SE Asia. Tectonophysics, 658, 14-45 (2015).

Rawlinson, N., Pozgay, E. and Fishwick, S. Seismic tomography: A window into deep Earth. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 178, 101-135 (2010).

Follow this link to find out about applying for this project

Other projects involving the supervisor(s) listed can be viewed here:

Filed under: