James Jackson is an earth scientist, with most of his work aimed at understanding the deformation and geological evolution of the continents. He uses earthquakes, space-based geodesy and imagery, as well as observations of landscape and Quaternary geology, to investigate the tectonic processes that shape the continents. His understanding of fault behaviour has had an impact on structural geology, tectonics, earthquake hazards and hydrocarbon exploration.
His field work has taken him to many parts of the Alpine–Himalayan mountain belt in Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, as well as to Africa, New Zealand and North America. He is increasingly involved in how to use the insights obtained by geologists to reduce the appalling risk from earthquakes to populations in developing countries.
Currently Professor of Active Tectonics and Head of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, James has published numerous papers and received many accolades. These include being awarded a fellowship of the American Geophysical Union in 2003 and the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society in 2015.