Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Sophie and I’m here to talk about all things solid Earth geophysics. As well as documenting exciting travels with fieldwork and conferences, I’ll be writing about geology based pieces that make the news and a bit of insight into the day to day life of being a PhD researcher.

I’m currently in the second year of my PhD at the University of Edinburgh, where I’m studying volcanic seismology. Broadly speaking, I’m trying to understand how the tiny earthquakes generated by active volcanoes, can give us more insight into eruptive processes. I work closely with the Instituto Geofísico in Quito, Ecuador and a lot of my research in the first 18 has focused on Tungurahua Volcano. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Ecuador twice in 2018 on research visits. The headline photo here is from the looking over to Tungurahua from high above the town of Baños.


Aside from seismology and volcanology I have a broad interest in most things solid Earth geology and geophysics. I studied for my undergraduate and integrated masters at Imperial College – there I presented a passive seismic analysis of the New Zealand tectonic system as part of my dissertation, and during my masters I studied magnetic anomaly mapping in the Lesser Antilles subduction zone.

Life as a PhD student

Here in Edinburgh, life outside of the PhD can be particularly busy! In the department I have just come to the end of 12 months sitting on the GradSchool committee – a student lead organisation to represent postgraduate researchers in GeoScience. We successfully organised a 3 day residential conference for over 80 guests, a student seminar series and a host of social evenings and ceilidhs. I’m currently sitting as Treasurer on the University of Edinburgh Geophysics Society and SEG Student Chapter.  During term time, I am also a tutor and demonstrator for undergraduate Earth Science students. In Geophysics I tutor an Introductory Geophysics course for 2nd year students, covering principles of global seismology, electromagnetism and gravity, as well as a 4th year course on Natural Hazards & Risk. I also assist in a weekly Python computer lab for Geochemists – Python is my programming language of choice for day to day work, but I have learned a little  C++ and MATLAB, and I’m currently learning more about machine learning and AI techniques in seismology.