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Joshua Jones

Joshua JonesJoshua Jones wears graduation robes and smiles at the camera



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In 2016 I completed a BSc in Geophysics with Geology at Durham University. This introduced me to the fundamentals of earth sciences and gave me experience in conducting near-surface geophysical surveying. After completing my BSc I decided to begin an MSc in Risk at the Durham University Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience. This change in direction was largely a result of time spent volunteering in Nepal after the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. My time in Nepal really opened my eyes to the catastrophic consequences of natural hazards, and motivated me to focus my research on natural hazards and disaster management. The MSc course gave me a thorough understanding of the physical processes associated with natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, typhoons and floods, as well an appreciation of how effective hazard mitigation requires stakeholder involvement and communication. The course culminated in a dissertation project on the control factors of coseismic and storm-triggered landslide distributions in the Gansu Province of northwest China. This involved creating multiple landslide inventories using remote sensing techniques, before quantifying the spatial-temporal distributions of those landslides within a GIS. This project cemented my passion for better understanding natural hazards for the purpose of improving disaster-risk management, and motivated me to continue higher level research in this field through my PhD project.


Current Research

The working title of my PhD is “Landsliding in Nepal: exploring the role of earthquakes, rivers and roads”.

The main aim of the project is to quantify the effect of earthquake-preconditioning in the Nepal Himalaya, and how this might be moderated by other geomorphological, climatic and human processes. Earthquake-preconditioning can be understood as the non-linear accumulation of brittle damage in hillslopes over multiple episodes of seismicity, and the consequent increases in hillslope susceptibility to future mass-movements. If earthquake-preconditioning is occurring, it is fair to hypothesis that rates of landslide occurrence will increase following large magnitude earthquakes under otherwise uniform conditions. This hypothesis has been tentatively supported by landslide observations in New Zealand, China and Taiwan, but remains largely unquantified and poorly understood. This PhD aims to test the earthquake-preconditioning hypothesis in the Nepal Himalaya, with a view to quantifying its impact such that it can be incorporated into statistical and deterministic models of hillslope stability that are used to predict future landslide occurrence. This will result in improved, time-dependent, landslide susceptibility maps, which will increase our understanding of the controls on landslide hazard, as well as providing a vital resource to hazard assessors across Nepal. This is a collaborative project between the University of East Anglia, the University of Plymouth, and AECOM engineering.



Centre for Research in Earth Sciences (CRES) Conference 2017, 22/11/2017:  Using the spatial distributions of past landslides to predict future failures, Tianshui City, China.

Geology for Global Development Annual conference, 4/11/2017: The impact of landsides on the sustainable development of Tianshui City, China.

St Chads College Research Forum, 4/05/2017: Can the past be used to predict the future? Assessing the temporal distributions of earthquake-triggered tsunamis in Chile.


Supervisory Team

Main Supervisor: Dr. Sarah J. Boulton (Plymouth University)

Secondary Supervisor: Dr. Georgina Bennett (University East Anglia)

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Michael Whitworth (AECOM)

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Martin Stokes (Plymouth University)



Fellow of the Geological Society

Postgraduate Fellow of the British Society for Geomorphology

Volunteer for the UK disaster-relief charity Shelterbox

Member of the UK charity Geology for Global Development



 I demonstrate on the following modules at Plymouth University

            GEOL1003: Geosystems

            GEOL1005: Geological Maps and Structural Geology

            GEOL2003: Geospatial Techniques

            GEOL3010: Engineering Geology