School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences


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 fluid-rock interactions and fluid flow in the subsurface.

Current research projects involve (a) Probability and uncertainty in Risk Estimation and Communication in China (PUREC), (b) Robust assessment and communication of environmental risk (RACER), (c) Rift volcanism: past, present, future RIFTVOLC and (d) Carbonate Rock Physics in four dimensions (4DRP). Recently-completed projects include (e) Time dependent deformation: bridging the strain rate gap (CREEP2), (f) Exploring Failure FOrecasting in Real Time (EFFORT) using a new science gateway, (g) Strategies and tools for real-time earthquake risk reduction (REAKT), and (h) Massive real-time data assimilation in environmental science (the 'Terra-Correlator').

Ian acts as Director of Research in the School of GeoSciences, and recently served as a member of the HEFCE Research Excellence Framework (REF) Panel on Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. He is currently a member of the Research Advisory Forum of the Scottish Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) and 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. It's peer-reviewed full report, including findings and recommendations, was published in 2011.

Ian 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]