Jess Johnson


  • 1.48 Sciences

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Improvements with a purpose: the role of accurate earthquake locations in the mapping of a volcanic plumbing system (JOHNSONJ_UENV16EE) Geophysical detection of fluid movement at active volcanoes (HERD_UENV16EE)

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Personal profile


Lecturer in Solid Earth Geophysics (2015)

Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship (2013)

Research Fellow through the cooperative agreement between the USGS- Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the University of Hawaii at Hilo (2011)

PhD Geophysics, Victoria University of Wellington (2011)

MSci Geophysics (North America) 1st Class Honours, University of Leeds (2007)

Administrative Posts

Member of the Extenuating Circumstances Committee for Natural Sciences Degrees

Member of the Graduate Affairs Committee

Course Director for Degrees of Geophysics

PGR Opportunities

Click here for current PhD opportunities in the School of Environmental Sciences. However, feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Teaching Interests

Jessica Johnson is module organiser for the module ENV-5004B: Exploring the Earth's subsurface

She also teaches on ENV-6001B/ENV-7042B Geophysical Hazards, ENV-4004Y Research and Field Skills, ENV-5030B Earth Science Skills, and PHY 4003Y Geophysics and Astrophysics

Key Research Interests and Expertise

My main research interests are in geophysical hazards, specifically volcano seismology and geodesy, and earthquake seismology.

The role of subsurface fluid movement in the generation and evolution of geophysical hazards is an important topic of research for understanding the mechanism and driving forces of volcanic eruptions and large earthquakes, and also for improving our ability to monitor and forecast disastrous events. In my research, I use seismology and ground deformation to quantify the effects of subsurface fluid movement of the critical systems in question.

Current research projects include: repeating earthquakes near Mount Ruapehu Volcano in New Zealand, seismic anisotropy at volcanoes in Ecuador and Iceland, deformation and seismicity associated with magma movement at Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii.


My masters and doctorate research were both dedicated to volcano seismology. At the University of Leeds, under the supervision of Prof. Neuberg, my MGeophys dissertation was titled "Investigations into the trigger mechanism of LP events at Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat". The project involved travelling to Montserrat to collaborate with scientists at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. My PhD thesis was titled “Discriminating between spatial and temporal variations in seismic anisotropy at active volcanoes”, and was carried out under the supervision of Prof. Savage and Dr. Townend at Victoria University of Wellington. During my PhD, I travelled to Anchorage, Alaska, to work with Dr. Prejean at AVO, researching the seismicity associated with the 2008 eruption of Okmok Volcano. The majority of my PhD research concentrated on Mt. Ruapehu Volcano in New Zealand. There are several major products resulting from that project. Through collaboration with scientists at GNS Science, I carried out two temporary deployments of seismometers. The deployments, and analysis of the data, resulted in what is possibly the largest database of SWS at any volcano. Another major product of my PhD was the development of the software to map seismic anisotropy, available to download here.

I completed a two-year research fellowship at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), where I worked on two projects. The first was to carry out SWS analysis at Kilauea for the first time for several decades. The second project was to develop FEMs to explain unique patterns of ground deformation observed at Kilauea. My second post-doctoral position was at the University of Bristol on a Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship. My main project was to develop a method of coupling micro- and macro-scale processes using finite element analysis with a view to model fluid movement and its effects on elastic properties of subsurface rocks. Other projects included analysis of volcano-tectonic earthquakes at Tungurahua volcano, seismicity and deformation associated with fluid movement at Kilauea volcano, investigation into repeating earthquakes near Ruapehu volcano, and stress and strain modelling of various tectonic regimes using finite element analysis.



Education/Academic qualification

University of East Anglia

Award Date: 1 Dec 2017

Doctor of Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington

Award Date: 1 Jan 2011

Master of Geophysics, University of Leeds

Award Date: 1 Jan 2007


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