Photo of Dr Pablo J Gonzalez

Dr Pablo J Gonzalez BSc, MSc, PhD

Lecturer in Geophysics Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences


Space Geodesy: High-resolution surface displacement mapping

Space geodesy has broad applications in the definition of global geodetic reference frames, navigation and security. Our group is interested to develop techniques for the analysis of geodetic data to obtain the most precise high-resolution (in space and time) estimates of surface ground deformation and its uncertainties for geohazard applications (land subsidence, volcanology and tectonics).

New technology means new opportunities, so we are excited to use novel techniques in a different and useful way. Our group explores the use of e.g., optical remote sensing, radar interferometry or GNSS to map surface ground deformation, and make a difference in how to use geodetic data to benefit modelling and understanding of natural hazards.

Volcano geodesy

Using geodetic data, we study how volcanoes deform. For example, how a repeated sets of microgravity surveys soon after a period of unrest could serve for the monitoring of fluid migrations after a dike intrusion (Gottsmann et al., 2006). Also a hot topic in volcano geodesy is the evaluation of structural stability of volcanic edifices and the study of frictional and kinematic properties of basal (decollements) and intra-volcanic fault systems (González et al., 2010). In general, the development of ground deformation monitoring systems (Prieto et al., 2009).

Our group has an extensive experience in basaltic systems and in particular, Ocean Island Volcanoes: Hawaii, Cape Verde and Canary Islands. Close collaboration with the Osservatorio Etneo allowed us to study Mt. Etna volcano in several projects.

Current research topics include, but are not limited to:
- Volcano flank deformation and its relation with active magmatic systems
- Mechanics of slow-slip events in volcanic areas
- Coupling of stress change and rate-and-state models for sill propagation
- Geodynamics of Oceanic Island Volcanoes
- Time-lapse high-resolution topography around volcanoes

Present-day plate kinematics, earthquake and fault mechanics

Continental lithosphere deformation can be measured using seismotectonics and geodesy. We study the instantaneous (present-day) deformation kinematics using geodetic data from GNSS networks and satellite radar interferometric surveys. These snapshots can be combined with long-term estimates from geomorphology and structural geology. In particular, we investigate recent and outstanding earthquakes using radar interferometry to illuminate the slip distribution at depth. Fault slip models during interseismic, co- and postseismic deformation phases could allow us to understand better the earthquake cycle and reduce the seismic hazard.

Particularly, we are interesting in low-rate convergence diffuse plate boundaries (e.g., Western Mediterranean area), slow fault slip rates requires extremely careful analysis of the geodetic data. Distribution of geodetic strain-rate could be use as a proxy for elastic strain accumulation and therefore long-term seismic hazard, even with low levels of instrumental seismicity. In the future, we are interest to develop kinematic and geodynamic models to explain the current deformation partition at such low rate convergence diffuse plate boundaries.

Research Grants

Centre for Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics (COMET)


April 2016 - March 2022

Ice-landforms characterization due to permafrost dynamics around the Pingo National Landmark, Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada


March 2017 - March 2018

Rapid deployment of a seismic array in Ecuador following the April 16th 2016 M7.8 Pedernales earthquake


June 2016 - October 2017