Professor Stewart Fishwick

Professor in Geophysics & Head of School

School/Department: Geography Geology & The Environment, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3810



I am currently Head of School in Geography, Geology & the Environment, and working with the School to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment that stimulates a diverse range of staff and students to thrive, and to experience work and study as enjoyable and inspiring.  Prior to taking on this role, I was Director of Learning & Teaching as the School formed through the combination of Geography and Geology departments.

My own research interests continue to be focused on the use of seismology to understand the structure of the upper part of the Earth's subsurface.  Previous work has been focused on both Australia and the African continent, and I am currently involved in two active collaborative projects in Zambia and Uganda.  Alongside being Head of School, I'm also the contract holder for the Leicester node of the NERC Geophysical Equipment Facility - Seis UK.

I continue to teach across a range of undergraduate modules (from 1st year, through to specialist integrated masters modules) and also have a longstanding involvement in the University's international foundation year programme, where I am Chair of the Academic Advisory Committee.


My primary research has involved using seismology to understand the structure and evolution of the lithosphere and upper mantle.  Interests cross the whole geological timespan - from contrasts in lithospheric structure within Precambrian Shields, through to understanding controls on present day plate tectonics.  The majority of my work has been using tomographic techniques, particularly with data from surface waves, and I have looked at approaches to improve the reliability of the resulting models through careful data processing.

The Australian and African continents have been a focus for many of my studies, and this has led to a wide range of collaborations with researchers from across the globe.  In many cases, the tomographic models that I have developed help provide constraints on upper mantle (lithospheric) structure, that can be used in assessing wider tectonic questions (e.g. nature of continental rifting, controls on seismicity, links to mineral deposits, and dynamic changes in topography).  

Currently, I am involved in two active projects.  1) As a project partner on the NSF Frontier Research in Earth Sciences programme investigating "Dry Rifting in the Albertine-Rhino graben (DRIAR), Uganda". 2) As a co-investigator on the NERC funded "Copper Basin Exploration Science (CuBES)" programme in Zambia


2020 - Rajaonarison, T.A., Stamps, D.S., Fishwick, S., Brune S., Glerum A., Numerical Modeling of Mantle Flow Beneath Madagascar to Constrain Upper Mantle Rheology Beneath Continental Regions, J Geophys Res, Art. No. e2019JB018560

2019 - Njinju, E.A., Atekwana, E.A., Stamps, D.S., Abdelsalam, M.G., Atekwana, E.A., Mickus, K.L., Fishwick, S., et al.,  Lithospheric structure of the Malawi Rift: Implications for Magma-Poor Rifting Processes, Tectonics, doi:10.1029/2019TC005549

2019 - Moorkamp, M., Fishwick, S., Walker, R.J., Jones, A.G,  Geophysical evidence for crustal and mantle weak zones controlling intra-plate seismicity - the 2017 Botswana earthquake sequence, Earth Plan. Sci. Lett. 506, 175-183,

2018 - Denton, P., Fishwick, S., Lane. V., Daly D., Football quakes as a tool for student engagement, Seismological Research Letters, 89, 1902-1907,

2018 - Ben Mansour, W., England, R.W., Fishwick, S., Moorkamp, M., Crustal properties of the northern Scandinavian mountains and Fennoscandian shield from analysis of teleseismic receiver functions, Geophys. J. Int., 214, 386-401,

2018 - Lodhia, B.H., Roberts, G. G., Fraser, A.J., Fishwick, S., Goes, S., Jarvis, J,. Continental margin subsidence from shallow mantle convection: Example from west Africa, Earth Plan. Sci. Lett. 381, 350-361,

2017 - Sippel, J., Meesen, C., Cacace, M., Mechie, J., Fishwick S., et al., The Kenya rift revisited: insights into lithospheric strength through data-driven 3-D gravity and thermal modelling, Solid Earth, 8, 45-81,

2016 - Civiero, C., Hammond, J.O.S., Goes, S., Fishwick, S., et al., Small-scale thermal upwellings under the northern East African Rift from S travel time tomography, J. Geophys. Res.  121,

2015 - Civiero, C., Hammond, J.O.S., Goes, S., Fishwick, S., et al., Multiple mantle upwellings in the transition zone beneath the northern East-African Rift system from relative P-wave travel-time tomography, Geochem, Geophys, Geosys., 16, doi:10.1002/2015GC005948 

2015 - Raveloson, A., Nyblade, A., Fishwick, S., Mangongolo, A., Master, S., The upper mantle seismic velocity structure of south-central Africa and the seismic architecture of Precambrian lithosphere beneath the Congo Basin.  In: M.J. de Wit et al., (Eds) Geology and Resource Potential of the Congo Basin, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 3-18, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-29482-2_1

2015 - Cheyney, S., Fishwick, S., Hill, I.A., Linford, N.T, Successful adaptation of three-dimensional inversion methodologies for archaeological scale, total field magnetic datasets. Geophys. J. Int. 202, 1271-1288

2014 - Czarnota, K., Roberts, G.G., White N.J., & Fishwick, S. Spatial and temporal patterns of Australian dynamic topography from River Profile Modeling, J. Geophys. Res. 119, doi:10.1002/2013JB010436

2013 - Jones, A.G., Fishwick, S., Evans, R.L., Muller, M.R & Fullea, J., Velocity conductivity relations for cratonic lithosphere and their application: Example of southern Africa. G-Cubed 14, doi:10.1002/ggge.20075

2013 - Kennett, B.L.N., Fichtner, A., Fishwick, S., Yoshizawa, K., Australian Seismological Reference Model (AusREM): mantle component, Geophys. J. Int., 192, 881-887

2013 - Maystrenko, Y.P., Scheck-Wenderoth, M., Hartwig, A., Anka, Z., Watts, A.B., Hirsch, K.K., Fishwick, S., Structural features of the southwest African continental margin according to results of lithosphere scale 3D gravity and thermal modelling, 2013 Tectonophysics, 501, 53-77

2012 - Fishwick, S. & Rawlinson, N., 3-D structure of the Australian lithosphere from evolving seismic datasets, Aus. J. Earth Sci. 59, 809-826

2012 - Fichtner, A., Fishwick, S., Yoshizawa, K. & Kennett B.L.N., Optimal spherical spline filters for the analysis and comparison of regional-scale tomographic models. Phys. Earth and Plan. Int. 190-192, 44-50.

2012 - Cheyney, S., Hill, I., Linford, N. & Fishwick, S., New approach to directional filtering of near-surface magnetic data. Near Surface Geophysics, 10, 359-367.

2012 - Rawlinson, N. & Fishwick, S., Seismic structure of the southeast Australian lithosphere from surface and body wave tomography. Tectonophysics, 572-573, 111-122

2011 - Fishwick, S., & Bastow, I.D., Towards a better understanding of African topography, a review of passive-source seismic studies of the African crust and upper mantle. In: Van Hinsbergen, D. J. J., Buiter, S. J. H., Torsvik, T. H., Gaina, C. & Webb, S. J. (eds) The Formation and Evolution of Africa: A Synopsis of 3.8 Ga of Earth History. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 357, 343371. DOI:10.1144/SP357.19

2011 - Rawlinson, N., Kennett, B.L.N., Vanacore, E., Glen, R.A & Fishwick, S. The structure of the upper mantle beneath the Delamerian and Lachlan orogens from simultaneous inversion of multiple datasets. Gondwana Research, 19, 788-789

2010 - Fishwick, S. Surface wave tomography: Imaging of the lithosphere – asthenosphere boundary beneath central and southern Africa? Lithos, 120, 63-73

2010 - Crosby A., Fishwick, S. & White, N. Structure and evolution of the intracratonic Congo Basin. G-Cubed, 11, Q06010, doi:10.1029/2009GC003014

2010 - Moorkamp, M., Jones, A.G., & Fishwick, S. Joint inversion of receiver functions, surface wave dispersion and magnetotelluric data. J. Geophys. Res B04318, doi:10.1029/2009JB006369

2010 - Rawlinson, N., Pozgay, S. & Fishwick, S. Seismic tomography: A window into deep Earth, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 178, 101-135

2009 - Al-Hajri, Y., White, N., & Fishwick, S. Scales of transient convective support beneath Africa, Geology, 37, 883-886

2009 - Pedersen, H. A., Fishwick, S. & Snyder, D. A comparison of cratonic roots through consistent analysis of seismic surface waves, Lithos, 109, 81-95

2008 - Fishwick, S., Heintz, M., Kennett, B.L.N., Reading, A.M. & K. Yoshizawa. Steps in lithospheric thickness within eastern Australia, evidence from surface wave tomography, Tectonics, 27, doi:10.1029/2007TC002116

2008 - Fishwick, S. and Reading, A.M. Anomalous lithosphere beneath the Proterozoic of western and central Australia: a record of continental collision and intraplate deformation, Precambrian Res., 166, 111-121

2006 - Fishwick, S. Gradient maps: A tool in the interpretation of tomographic images, Phys. Earth Plan. Int. 156, 152-157

2006 - Goleby, B.R., Blewett, R.S., Fomin, T., Fishwick, S., Reading A.M., Henson, P.A., Kennett, B.L.N., Champion, D.C., Jones, L., Drummond, B.J. & Nicoll, M., An integrated multi-scale 3D seismic model of the Archaean Yilgarn Craton, Australia, Tectonophysics, 420, 75-90

2005 - Fishwick, S., Kennett, B.L.N. & Reading, A.M. Contrasts in lithospheric structure within the Australian craton - insights from surface wave tomography, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 231, 163-176

2004 - Kennett, B.L.N., Fishwick, S. & Heintz, M. Lithospheric structure in the Australian region - a synthesis of surface wave and body wave studies, Exploration Geophysics, 35, 258-266

2004 - Kennett, B.L.N., Fishwick, S., Reading, A.M. & Rawlinson N. Contrasts in mantle structure beneath Australia: relation to Tasman Lines?, Aust. J. Earth. Sci., 51, 563-569


I am happy to act as a primary supervisor for PhD projects focused on using passive (earthquake) seismology techniques to investigate crustal and upper mantle structure. 

While my own current research focus is on the region of the East African Rift System, I am co-supervising a PhD project that will initially focus on the dynamics beneath Mongolia (and central Asia more generally), a recent student has just finished a project looking at data from Thailand, and I've previously done lots of work on Australia.  So, the region of interest for a project is not limited to anywhere particular, it's about the data available and the question / topic that needs to be addressed.


I have taught across all years of our undergraduate (BSc and MGeol) degrees.  This currently includes supervision of dissertations and projects alongside modules including:

1st year: Introductory geophysics / large scale Earth structure
1st year: Introductory geological field course (currently to the Isle of Arran)

2nd year: Structure & Tectonics - introducing the use of GIS to illustrate regional tectonics

3rd year: Planetary Science

4th year: Global Seismology

Press and media

I have previously talked about earthquakes and seismology with the media.  This has ranged from brief comments on seismicity offshore from Indonesia in relation to the potential for tsunami's, to a more sustained involvement in supporting our students in the Vardyquake project - looking at the seismic signature of the crowd noise associated with Leicester's amazing title winning season of 2015-16. 

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