School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Dr Philip Benson

  • Qualifications: PhD CPhys FGS
  • Role Title: Senior Lecturer
  • Address: School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Burnaby Building, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, PO1 3QL
  • Telephone: 023 92 842255
  • Email:
  • Department: Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Faculty: Science


I specialise in the relatively new discipline of Rock Physics, but with broad and cross disciplinary research interests in areas as diverse as geophysics, volcano-tectonics, and structural geology. My particular focus is to apply modern laboratory rock deformation techniques to simulate active tectonic areas such as deep subduction zones and active volcanoes, recording the induced seismicity that acts as a diagnostic to these deep crustal processes.

Teaching Responsibilities

Rock Mechanics (U20037)

Research In Geohazards (U20043)

Applications in Rock Mechanics (U23512)

Research Interests

Specific areas of active research include: 

  • Dyke movement and arrest: how material properties affect the movement of magmas and dyke structures during magma transport.
  • Mechanical properties of  crystal-bearing magma: Seismogenic lavas and eruption forecasting using laboratory AE location analysis and pore fabric characterisation.
  • Forecasting material failure and geological hazard via passive seismicity and attenuation.
  • Coupled Processes: linking Thermal-Hydraulic-Mechanical interactions in the shallow crust to passive seismic signals; Seismic precursors to earthquakes (‘Volcano-Tectonic’ and ‘Low Frequency’ harmonic events).
  • Porous Media & Anisotropy: Investigation of fluid flow (permeability) anisotropy from elastic-wave anisotropy and 3D pore fabric anisotropy.


View all publications on Parade…


European Union (2013-) Marie-Curie Reintegration Grant. EUR100,000 (PI) ‘Hydro-fracture in the laboratory: matching diagnostic seismic signals to fracture networks via new rock physics experiments’

Swiss National Funds (2012-). CHF 283,051 (Co-PI) ‘Rheologic & physical properties of igneous systems

Swiss National Funds (2011-2012). CHF 139,977 (Co-PI) ‘Physics and chemistry of large strained, partially molten poly-phase rocks.

Swiss National Funds (2011-). CHF 242,471 (PI) ‘Hydrofracture propagation and arrest in active geological settings: understanding high temperature / high pressure coupled processes laboratory rock-physics simulations’

Swiss National Funds (2010-2012). CHF 131,400 (Co-PI) ‘Campi Flegrei Deep Drilling Project (CFDDP): Rheology and physical properties of feldspar- and bubble-bearing andesite and trachyte magmas’



  • Cambridge University, Department of Geophysics (2012). Laboratory geophysics simulations of crustal porcesses: the missing link between field and model.
  • Durham University, Insitute of Hazard, Risk and Resiliance (2012). Forecasting rock failure in the laboratory and its application to earthquke and volcanic hazard.
  • MIT, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (2012). Earthquake processes and their relation to fracture permeability: new experimental insights.
  • Karlesruhe Institute of Technology, Department of Geophysics (2011). Coupled processes in the shallow Earth, laboratory simulation and field comparisons.
  • University of British Columbia, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Canada (2010). Fluid induced seismicity in the laboratory: from volcano-tectonics to hydrofracture.

Achievement and Recognition


  • Institute of Physics (U.K.): Member since 1997 and Chartered Physicist (C.Phys.) since 2002.
  • Society of Exploration Geophysicists: Active member.
  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London.