Professor Robert White

Professor of Geophysics at Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Professor of Geophysics, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Professor Robert White has been with the Department of Earth Sciences since 1989. His research group investigating the Earth’s dynamic crust: in particular the way in which enormous volumes of volcanic rock, totalling two-thirds of the earth’s crust, are produced when continents and oceans rift apart.

His work has taken him all over the world and his research group is currently investigating the internal structure of volcanoes in Iceland, the Faroes and the Atlantic margin. Relatively small changes in mantel temperature can have a dramatic effect on the rock produced from rift spreading and understanding this process is important both academically but also socially, due to the hazards of volcanic eruptions.

His current research projects include

  • Tomographic imaging of melt bodies under active volcanoes in Iceland and New Zealand using large arrays of broad-band seismometers.
  • Detailing the properties of basalts by making detailed vertical seismic profiles, around boreholes in the Faroe Islands.
  • Improved understanding of rifted continental margins, her is currently working on two 300-km long profiles across the North Atlantic volcanic rifted margins.
  • Development of improved methods of mapping fluid motions in the subsurface from surface seismic monitoring of hydrofractures in subterranean reservoirs.
  • Development of a broader view of the sustainable use of the environment using scientific, social, and ethical insights.

In 1994 Professor White was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, he is also a Fellow of the Geological Society along with other professional bodies. Bob is acting chair of the John Ray Initiative, an educational charity that works to develop and communicate a Christian understanding of the environment, as well as a Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge.