volcanic eruption at Mount Etna

Engineering geology and natural hazards research

Explore our work in engineering geology and natural hazards, 1 of our areas of expertise in Biological Sciences

Our engineering geology and natural hazards research explores the causes, impacts and management of natural phenomena such as hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes.

Through our collaborations with partners in industry and government, we use new technologies including remote sensing, 3D visualisation and rock mechanics to better predict, prepare for and respond to environmental hazards in natural and urban landscapes. This includes developing new remote sensing and hyperspectral methods to test construction materials, investigate ground conditions and airborne dust.

We're developing new rock mechanics techniques to characterise rocks and better understand how rocks and fluids interact under stress, for instance prior to earthquakes, volcanic eruption or following hydraulic fracturing. We use field and remote assessments to more effectively gauge the impacts and ongoing threats caused by natural disasters, including forensic investigation of major events.

We provide expertise and training for the disaster management community through disaster simulations, and our work feeds into risk assessments for NGOs, governments, insurers and developers.

We also use satellite imagery to understand the impacts that mining, hydrocarbon extraction and other land use has on the planet, provide advice on sustainability, and apply these techniques to heritage conservation, helping partners develop new standards and optimise monitoring and repair programmes.

Our work has been published in leading publications, such as the Journal of Geophysical Research; Geomorphology; and the International Journal of Rock Mechanic and Mining Sciences.

Our work explores the following topics


  • Disaster and crisis management
  • Terrain evaluation and risk
  • Engineering geology and geomorphology
  • Rock mechanics and engineering
  • Remote sensing, hyperspectral sensing and geoinformatics
  • 3D data visualisation
  • Masonry structures
  • Characterisation and source attribution of dusts
  • Geoconservation and built heritage


Our research takes place in our laboratories and in field sites across Europe, Asia, South America, North America and the Caribbean.

Our Remote Sensing, Hyperspectral and Rock Physics laboratories offer specialist facilities that help us deliver outstanding research outcomes. We also offer consultancy services informed by our research, specialising in terrain evaluation, hazard and risk analysis, engineering geology, engineering geomorphology and geotechnical engineering.

Collaborations and Funders

We work closely with many major industry partners, including DustscanAQ, Peter Brett Associates, Keller UK, Aker BP (Norway), Fugro (Netherlands), Southern Testing, SRK Worldwide, Keltbray, Bam Ritchies, Soils Ltd, the Geological Society of London, Atkins, WS Atkins plc, SOCOTEC UK, Rock & Alluvium, and Wardell Armstrong. We also have knowledge-sharing partnerships with institutions including the European Plate Observing System (EPOS); the British Geological Survey; University College London Hazard Research Centre; and the University of Mainz, Germany.

Our research is frequently funded by major organisations, including Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Royal Society, the European Commission, and Horizon 2020.

Publication highlights

Discover our areas of expertise

Engineering geology and natural hazards is 1 of our areas of expertise within the Earth and Environmental Sciences research area. Explore the others below.

Research groups

We're researching the investigation and management of natural and manmade hazards to help communities adapt to environmental change.
We're researching the impact of natural and man-made hazards upon communities, helping them to adapt to environmental change while ensuring future resilience.

Interested in a PhD in Earth & Environmental Sciences?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Earth & Environmental Sciences postgraduate research degrees page.