School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences


Ian Main FRSE
Professor, Seismology & Rock Physics

Brief CV


1986 PhD in Seismology, University of Edinburgh.
1980 MSc advanced course in Geophysics, University of Durham.
1979 BSc in Physics, University of St. Andrews.

Professional Experience

2000- Professor of Seismology and Rock Physics, University of Edinburgh.
1989-2000   Lecturer, then Reader (since 1996) in Seismology and Rock Physics, University of Edinburgh.
1985-1989 Lecturer in Geophysics, University of Reading.


2014 Awarded the Louis Néel Medal of the European Geosciences Union
2010 Awarded a Scottish Government/Royal Society of Edinburgh research fellowship.
2009 Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
1997 Bullerwell Lecturer, Royal Astronomical Society
1978 Carnegie Summer Scholarship for undergraduate research in Laser Physics

Professional service

Current Director of Research, School of GeoSciences. 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).
2013-2014 Member of the Panel on Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences as part of the HEFCE Research Excellence Framework (REF)
2011-2012 Contributor, UK Government Foresight Project on the Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets. (See its Final Report)
2009-2012 Member, Royal Society of Edinburgh Sectional committee in Earth Science and Chemistry
2010-2011 Member, International Commission on Earthquake Forecasting for civil protection (ICEF) See its findings and recommendations and the peer-reviewed full report
2009 Chair, College of Science and Engineering review of non-specialist teaching in Mathematics.
2005-2009 Co-Director, Edinburgh Collaborative of Subsurface Science and Engineering (ECOSSE); Board Member, Edinburgh Regional Partnership in Engineering and Mathematics (ERPem)
2003-2007 Convenor, School of Geoscience Research group in Subsurface GeoScience (now Earth and Planetary Sciences; Member, School of GeoScience Executive Group; Member, School of GeoScience Research Strategy Group.
2000-2004 Convenor, College of Science & Engineering Computing Committee. Member, University Communications and Information Technology Committee, and the College of Science & Engineering Undergraduate Studies Committee.
1999-2010 Associate Editor, Natural Hazards.
1997-2001 Associate Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research.
1994-1997 Member of the Editorial Board of the journal Geology.
1991-1995 Member, International Association for Seismology & Physics of the Earth's Interior (IASPEI) Sub-commission on Modelling the Earthquake Source.
1990-1994 Member, IASPEI Sub-commission on Significant Earthquake Precursors.
1988-1989 Board member, International Seismological Centre (ISC) Governing Council.

Major invited lectures since 2012

2018 'Predictability of catastrophic failure events in porous media and in the Earth', 9th Multiscale Materials Modeling conference, Osaka.
2017 ‘Localization of deformation in porous granular media’, International conference on Avalanche Processes in condensed matter physics and beyond, Barcelona, Spain (Photo of participants below).
Avalanches Participants
2014 ‘'Crackling noise in digital and real rocks - implications for forecasting of catastrophic failure', International conference on Avalanches in Funcional Materials and Geophysics, Cambridge, UK
2014 'Evolution of damage during deformation in porous granular materials', Louis Néel lecture, European Union of Geosciences Annual Conference, Vienna
2013 'Scaling and predictability of catastrophic failure in real time: from laboratory tests to volcanoes and earthquakes', VI International Conference on Fractals and Dynamic Systems in Geoscience, Perugia, Italy
2013 'Quantification of earthquake hazard and its uncertainty: implications for forecast quality', International Conference of the Royal Statistical Society, Newcastle
2012 "Earthquake clustering - does the evidence support it?", International Underwriting Association meeting on Catastrophe Risk Management, London

Leisure Interests

I still enjoy playing the guitar and singing in sessions in the old town, or running (very slowly) around the Meadows.