Agust Gudmundsson


  • TW20 0EX

Personal profile

Research interests

My main research interests are in the physics of various geological and physical processes. More specifically, the research of my students, collaborators, and me focuses on volcanotectonic and seismotectonic structures and processes, fluid transport in porous and fractured aquifers and reservoirs, geoothermal and solar energy, urban development, and the thermodynamics/statistical mechanics of lineaments and networks. The latter relates not only to fracture networks, but also to street and building networks and their relation to fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and general energy considerations. For example, in collaboration with colleagues at UCL and EPFL (Switzerland) some 400 street networks of urban areas (cities, towns, districts) in the UK have been analysed in relation to fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

I have worked much on the relations between seismotectonics, volcanotectonics, and associated hazards and risks, but also on landslides, geothermal energy, solar energy, and related topics. In particular, I have participated in many European projects on seismic and volcanic risk. The book Volcanotectonics: Understanding the Structure, Deformation, and Dynamics of Volcanoes was published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press and focuses on the physics and hazards of volcanoes, their eruptions, deformation, and earthquakes. An earlier book, Rock Fractures in Geological Processes, also published by Cambridge University Press (2011), covers the field of brittle deformation with emphasis on fracture mechanics and fluid transport with application to fractured and porous rocks. Similar topics, for the general audience and with a focus on Iceland, are covered in the book The Glorious Geology of Iceland's Golden Circle (Springer-Nature, 2017 - also available in German).

I  have extensive experience in field studies of volcanoes, faults zones, and fluid-filled reservoirs of various types, as well as in analytical and numerical modelling of geological structures and processes. In particular, I have worked for many years on groundwater aquifers and geothermal reservoirs.  In addition to my work on energy sources such as geothermal reservoirs as well as aquifers, I have, in collaboration with colleagues at EPFL, and in recent years colleagues at UCL, explored the relations between various geometric aspects of the built environment (urban areas) and energy demand, CO2 emissions, air pollution, and the potential for geothermal and solar energy.

Personal profile

I have an MSc in Structural Geology and Rock Mechanics from Imperial College London and a PhD in Tectonophysics from Imperial College London (University of London). Previously I was research professor of Volcanology at the Nordic Volcanological Institute, University of Iceland, then professor and Chair of Hydrogeology of Solid Rocks at the University of Bergen (Norway), and before I took up my present position, Head of Department and Chair of Structural Geology and Geodynamics at the University of Gottingen (Germany).

I was for many years Chief Editor of the journal Frontiers in Structural Geology and Tectonics and Associate Editor of Terra Nova, Bulletin of Volcanology, Frontiers in Volcanology, and Scientific Reports. I am also (or have been) on the editorial boards (Review Editor) of The Scientific World JournalTectonophysics, and Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. I review and edit tens of manuscripts per year and was named to the American Geophysical Union Editors' year 2014 list for Citations for Excellence in Reviewing.  I am a fellow of the Iceland Academy of Sciences and an elected member of Academia Europaea (the European Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Letters). 


GL 1301 Lectures on geothermal energy

GL 2320 Lectures on volcanic hazards

GL 2260/3460 Volcanology

GL 2740 Sustainable energy

GL 3600 Advanced techniques in tectonics and structural interpretation

GL 5520 Lectures on fluid transport in the earth's crust

GL 5950 Renewable energy

Field excursion to Tenerife for 3rd year students taking GL3460 and GL3600

Field excursion to the Bristol Channel for MSc students


I am currently principal supervisor of 1 PhD student. Commonly, I am also principal supervisor of 2 MSc students and occasionally 1-2 MSci students.

Other work

Formerly Chief Editor of Frontiers in Stuctural Geology and Tectonics (Frontiers/Nature Publishing Grop)

Associate Editor of Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group)

Formerly Associate Editor of Terra Nova (Wiley)

Formerly Associate Editor of Bulletin of Volcanology (Springer)

Associate Editor of Frontiers in Volcanology (Frontiers/Nature Publishing Group)

Associate Editor of The World Scientific Journal (Hindawi)

Formerly on the Editorial Board of Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research (Elsevier)

Editorial Board of Tectonophysics (Elsevier)

  • Reviewer for: Nature, Nature Geoscience, Science, Science Advances, Geology, Journal of Geophysical Research, Tectonics, G-cubed, Geophysical Research Letters, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, International Journal of Earth Sciences, Journal of Structural Geology, Journal of Geodynamics, Pure and Applied Geophysics, Geophysical Journal International, Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics, Journal of Geophysics and Engineering, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, Journal of African Earth Sciences, Sustainability, Engineering Fracture Mechanics, Computers & Geosciences, Geosphere, and others.
  • Reviewer of grant applications for: NERC, NSF, National Geographic, The Iceland Science Foundation, The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), The French National Science Foundation (ANR), The Norwegian Science Foundation, AXA, and others.
  • Appointed advisor to the Scientific Advisory Board for Emergencies (SAGE), Government Office for Science, in connection with risks associated with the 2014-2015 Bardarbunga-Holuhraun eruption.
  • Frequently interviewed on radio, by newspapers, and on television in connection with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. In particular, several interviews on Sky News.
  • Provide 'educational material' on volcanic eruptions for bodies such as 'Discover the World Education', particularly on volcanic eruptions.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


  • volcanotectonics
  • seismotectonics
  • tectonophysics
  • rock mechanics
  • structural geology
  • reservoir modelling
  • hydrogeology
  • fluid transport in reservoirs
  • thermodynamics/statistical mechanics of linements and networks

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or