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Science and Engineering at The University of Edinburgh

School of GeoSciences

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Ian Main FRSE
Professor, Seismology & Rock Physics

Ian Main

Ian is interested in the processes that lead up to catastrophic failure events, from earthquakes, rock fracture, and volcanic eruptions to failure of building materials and bridges, and in quantifying the resulting hazard. He is particularly interested in the population dynamics of localised brittle failure as a complex, non-linear (unreasonable) system, as well as the influence of old, new and reactivated faults and fault zones on fluid flow underground, including oil and gas fields, groundwater aquifers, and potential CO2 storage sites.

Current research projects involve (a) Time dependent deformation: bridging the strain rate gap (CREEP2) (b) Exploring and Failure FOrecasting in Real Time (EFFORT) using a new science gateway; (c) Strategies and tools for real-time earthquake risk reduction (REAKT), (d) Robust assessment and communication of environmental risk (RACER), and (e) Massive real-time data assimilation in environmental science (the 'Terra-Correlator').

Ian is currently a member of: (a) The HEFCE Research Excellence Framework (REF) Panel on Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences; (b) the Research Advisory Forum of the Scottish Energy Technology Partnership (ETP); and (c) the Scottish Regional Advisory Group for Enhanced Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA)

He served as a member of the International commission on earthquake forecasting for civil protection, chaired by Tom Jordan, following the destructive earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy. An executive summary of its findings and recommendations was published on the Italian Civil protection website in 2010. Its full report followed in 2011. Many media interviews followed, especially on the impact of the trial, conviction and recent acquittal of 6 scientists for manslaughter, and on ongoing efforts in disaster risk reduction, inc. Should scientists stop giving advice?, Communicating risk, Italian seismologists cleared, and Manslaughter conviction overturned

In knowledge transfer he is working on commercialisation of a recently-developed method of statistical reservoir analysis, and on risk reduction and uncertainty management in mitigating a range of Geo-Hazards.

He gave the Bullerwell lecture in Geophysics in 1997, and moderated the Nature debate on earthquake prediction in 1999. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) in 2009, and completed a Scottish Government/RSE research support fellowship in 2011. He was awarded the Louis Néel Medal of the European Union of Geosciences in April 2014.

Phone: +44 131 650 4911
Fax: +44 131 668 3184
Email: ian.main[at]ed.ac.uk

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