Research Fellows Directory
Dr Richard Walker
University of Oxford
My research is focussed on learning about the Earth - in particular the occurrence of earthquakes and the formation of mountain ranges - from observations of the Earth's surface. Usually the fault movements in earthquakes are just a few metres, and the interval between earthquakes on any one fault can be hundreds of years, but the movements in repeated earthquakes over thousands of years produce disruptions visible in the landscape. Because of this, a major part of my time is spent analysing satellite images of the Earth - including those on Google Earth! - to look for evidence of faulting and earthquakes. I also spend a lot of time out 'in the field' making observations and collecting samples for laboratory analysis.
A lot of my research is in the arid interior of Asia and I have spent considerable time in the deserts of Iran and Mongolia, trying to interpret the landscapes of these regions, and looking for evidence of past earthquakes. There are important reasons why I chose these study areas. The dry environment really helps to preserve the landscape; there is little erosion, and the surface effects of earthquakes can be preserved for many hundreds of years! There is also a pressing societal need to investigate the distributions of past earthquakes in Asia; as populations rise and cities grow, the hazard posed by earthquakes increase. Any increase in our understanding of faults has the potential to help populations at risk from earthquakes.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)