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Rebecca Bell

Rebecca Bell, Geologist and Geophysicist, Imperial College London

 “My job description is “find out something new that no one has ever found out before”- that is excellent motivation to go to work each day!”

Becky became interested in science when she was a child. She enjoyed picking up stones on the beach and making fossils out of plaster with her dad and also loved watching TV shows and films about natural hazards - the rest is history.

Her research focuses on learning about how faults (fractures in the Earth) grow and behave at different types of plate boundary, and how faults develop at both subduction zones and rifts- which are locations where new ocean crust forms. This involves imaging the Earth underground to see where faults are, how big they are and what is their shape in order to learn more about how they behave and how much of a seismic hazard they might be.

She uses sound energy created from a ship, detected by seismometers both at sea and on land. The sound waves pass through the Earth and get reflected back by different rock layers. Using lots of instruments her and her team can see how the rocks are causing the sound waves to distort and build up a picture of the rock layers and faults deep underground- to depths greater than 10 km.

At the moment she’s trying to learn more about the shape and size of the plate boundary fault zone beneath Gisborne and investigate its character, with the aim to discover why some faults slip in slow slip events. The first results from these experiments should be published by the end of 2018 but for Becky research is never finished as there is always more to learn and discovery.

Her job description is “find out something new that no one has ever found out before”- that is excellent motivation to go to work each day!