My research methods include field-mapping, drone-based photogrammetry, interpretation of digital elevation models, satellite imagery, geology and geophysics, cosmogenic nuclide dating and trenching. I have also investigated non-traditional paleoseismic techniques for application in the remote Australian landscape, including modelling and dating of fragile geological features, schmidt hammer tests, and earthquake environmental damage.
Plain language summary
Earthquakes occur on weaknesses in the earth called faults. We call them active faults if they’ve caused recent earthquakes, or could cause future earthquakes. Some earthquakes cause permanent damage and offset to the ground surface, which is what I study.
Right after a surface-damaging earthquake I use satellites, drones and field work (if I can get there) to quantify the damage. This is vital information to understand why the earthquake happened, and gives us estimates of how bad earthquakes on other active faults might be. I also look at active faults that haven’t caused modern/historic earthquakes, and try to estimate how large a future earthquake might be, and how often those earthquakes occur.
Past Research & Education
I completed my PhD at the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne focusing on historic Australian surface ruptures and geological damage due to near-source strong ground motions. My thesis included a systematic review of historic Australian surface rupturing earthquakes, where I digitised historic data and provided new data-sets for use in hazard and scaling relationships. I also conducted a study on co-seismically displaced geological objects, which record co-seismic strong ground motion directionality in the absence of near-field instrumental records. Finally, my thesis presented field and drone based mapping of the 2016 Mw 6.1 Petermann earthquake in Central Australia, documenting a lack of evidence for a penultimate event on this fault, and near-field environmental damage.
My PhD was supervised by Associate Professor Mark Quigley and Professor Mike Sandiford, within a team of PhD and masters students also studying landscape effects of earthquakes, modelling earthquake sequences and understanding earthquake hazards through time in both inter-and intraplate settings.
My Masters thesis research was conducted with Dr Steve Boger and Professor Janet Hergt on the tectonic and metamorphic history of the Aileu Formation on the north coast of Timor Leste, using whole rock geochemistry and U/Pb dating of zircon and titanite. This work was part of an ongoing relationship between a research team at the School of Earth Sciences led by Mike Sandiford and the Timorese government.
I completed my undergraduate science degree at the University of Melbourne between 2009 – 2011, and spent my final semester on exchange at the University of Glasgow. I received a major in Geology, but also completed courses in surveying, GIS and modern history.
From 2017 to 2020 I worked as an instructor for She Maps, a company dedicated to building confidence in STEM subjects using drones as a platform for learning. I’ve traveled extensively across the country teaching students and teachers in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns, Dubbo, Alice Springs, Katherine, and a week in the remote community of Yiyili, Western Australia. This work allows me to engage with community groups and schools to share my research, and to promote diversity in STEM to a broad range of people. I enjoy the challenge of communicating my science and the importance of diversity across different age, gender and cultural groups, and through different mediums such as print media, blogs, videos, TV, radio, and presentations.
I was born and raised in Katherine, Northern Territory, a remote town with a population of ~ 7,000 about 300 km south-east of Darwin. I attended public primary and high schools in Katherine, taking multiple senior subjects via correspondence with schools in Adelaide and Darwin. This remote, small-town upbringing taught me valuable lessons in respect and communication with a diverse range of people and cultures, and a love for the remote Australian landscapes and ecosystems.
In 2015 I moved to Yogyakarta in central Java, Indonesia, where my partner was working in the Australian Volunteers for International Development program as a post disaster shelter expert. We lived in a small village on the outskirts of the city, working, raising ducklings, and learning Indonesian. Living on the edge of Indonesia’s most active volcano (Mount Merapi) in an area devastated by a 2006 earthquake (Bantul), I learnt a lot about the disconnect between scientists studying natural hazards, and communities living with the reality of natural hazards.
In March 2020 we moved to the UK, a week before the covid-19 lockdowns started in England. Trying to make the most of a bad situation, we spent time exploring the countryside learning about UK flora (for fruit and mushroom foraging purposes!), kayaking on the River Thames and Cherwell, and adventuring around England, Wales and Scotland in our micro-camper van.