Alex Copley

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

I am an Earth Scientist working in the University of Cambridge, studying active tectonics from the scale of individual fault systems to large deformation belts. My work spans observations of active deformation (using seismology, InSAR, field and remote sensing observations of geomorphology, etc.), petrological analysis of past tectonic events, and numerical modelling to understand the underlying forces and rheology. Areas of particular interest include the active deformation of the continents and the rheology of the lithosphere.

Journal Publications

  1. A. Copley and O. Weller, Modern-style continental tectonics since the early Archean, Precambrian Research, doi:10.1016/j.precamres.2024.107324, 2024
  2. PDF version
  3. A. Copley, O. Weller, and H. Bain, Diapirs of crystal-rich slurry explain granite emplacement temperature and duration, Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/s41598-023-40805-2, 2023
  4. PDF version
  5. S. Wimpenny, N. Forrest, and A. Copley, Time-dependent decrease in fault strength in the 2011-2016 Ibaraki-Fukushima earthquake sequence, Geophysical Journal International, v232, p788-809 doi:10.1093/gji/ggac368, 2023
  6. PDF version
  7. N. D'Agostino, A. Copley, J. Jackson, R. Koci, A. Hajrullai, L. Duni, and N. Kuka, Active tectonics and fault evolution in the Western Balkans, Geophysical Journal International, v231, p2102-2126 doi:10.1093/gji/ggac316, 2022
  8. PDF version
  9. A. O'Kane, A. Copley, S. Mitra, and S. Wimpenny, The geometry of active shortening in the northwest Himalayas and the implications for seismic hazard, Geophysical Journal International, v231, p2009-2033 doi:10.1093/gji/ggac303, 2022
  10. PDF version
  11. S. Miocevich, A. Copley, and O. Weller, Testing the importance of sagduction: insights from the Lewisian Gneiss Complex of northwest Scotland, Precambrian Research, v379, doi:10.1016/j.precamres.2022.106708, 2022
  12. PDF version
  13. A. Copley, and O. Weller, The controls on the thermal evolution of continental mountain ranges, Journal of Metamorphic Geology, doi:10.1111/jmg.12664, 2022
  14. PDF version
  15. L. Knight, A. Copley, C. Bertoni, R.A. Sloan, R. Walker, Links between foreland rheology and the growth and evolution of a young mountain belt in New Guinea, Geophysical Journal International, 228, 1684--1712, doi:10.1093/gji/ggab427, 2022
  16. PDF version
  17. A. Whyte, O. Weller, A. Copley, and M. St-Onge, Quantifying Water Diffusivity and Metamorphic Reaction Rates Within Mountain Belts, and Their Implications for the Rheology of Cratons, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 22, doi:10.1029/2021GC009988, 2021
  18. PDF version
  19. O. Weller, C. Mottram, M. St-Onge, C. Moller, R. Strachan, T. Rivers, and A. Copley, The metamorphic and magmatic record of collisional orogens, Nature Reviews Earth and Envrionment, doi:10.1038/s43017-021-00218-z, 2021
  20. PDF version
  21. M.J. Duvall, J.W.F. Waldron, L. Godin, Y. Najman, and A. Copley, Indian plate structural inheritance in the Himalayan foreland basin, Nepal, Basin Research, doi:10.1111/bre.12584, 2021
  22. PDF version
  23. A. Copley, O. Weller, P. Cawood, and C. Warren, Understanding earthquakes using the geological record: an introduction, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 379, doi:10.1098/rsta.2019.0410, 2021
  24. PDF version
  25. T. Greenfield, A. Copley, C. Caplan, P. Supendi, S. Widiyantoro, and N. Rawlinson, Crustal Deformation and Fault Strength of the Sulawesi Subduction Zone, Tectonics, doi:10.1029/2020TC006573, 2021
  26. PDF version
  27. C. Penney and A. Copley, Lateral variations in lower crustal strength control the temporal evolution of mountain ranges: examples from south-east Tibet, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 22, doi:10.1029/2020GC009092, 2021
  28. PDF version
  29. A. O'Kane and A. Copley, The controls on earthquake ground motion in foreland-basin settings: the effects of basin and source geometry, Geophysical Journal International, 225, 512-529, doi:10.1093/gji/ggaa599, 2021
  30. PDF version
  31. T.J. Craig, P.B. Kelemen, B.R. Hacker, and A. Copley, Reconciling geophysical and petrological estimates of the thermal structure of southern Tibet, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 21, doi:10.1029/2019GC008837, 2020
  32. PDF version
  33. S. Wimpenny, C. Benavente, A. Copley, B. Garcia, L. Rosell, A. O'Kane and E. Aguirre, Observations and dynamical implications of active normal faulting in South Peru, Geophysical Journal International, 222, 27-53, doi:10.1093/gji/ggaa144, 2020
  34. PDF version
  35. Y. Najman, E. R. Sobel, I. Millar, D. F. Stockli, G. Govin, F. Liskere, E. Garzanti, M. Limonta, G. Vezzoli, A. Copley, P. Zhang, E. Szymanski, A. Kahn, The exhumation of the Indo-Burman Ranges, Myanmar, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 530, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2019.115948, 2020
  36. PDF version
  37. O. Weller, A. Copley, W. Miller, R. Palin, B. Dyck, The relationship between mantle potential temperature and oceanic lithosphere buoyancy, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 518, 86-99, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2019.05.005, 2019
  38. PDF version
  39. J.D. Smith, J-P Avouac, R.S. White, A. Copley, A. Gualandi, S. Bourne, Reconciling the Long-Term Relationship Between Reservoir Pore Pressure Depletion and Compaction in the Groningen Region Journal of Geophysical Research, 124, doi:10.1029/2018JB016801, 2019
  40. PDF version
  41. T. Ball, C. Penney, J. Neufeld, and A. Copley, Controls on the geometry and evolution of thin-skinned fold-thrust belts, and applications to the Makran accretionary prism and Indo-Burman Ranges Geophysical Journal International, 218, 247-267, doi:10.1093/gji/ggz139, 2019
  42. PDF version
  43. R. Lloyd, J. Biggs, and A. Copley, The decade-long Machaze-Zinave aftershock sequence in the slowly straining Mozambique Rift Geophysical Journal International, 217, 504-531, doi:10.1093/gji/ggz033, 2019
  44. PDF version
  45. Y. Najman, S.D. Burley, A. Copley, M.J. Kelly, K. Pander, and P. Mishra, The late Eocene-early Miocene unconformities of the NW Indian intraplate basins and Himalayan foreland: a record of tectonics or mantle dynamics? Tectonics, 37, doi:10.1029/2018TC005286, 2018
  46. PDF version
  47. S. Wimpenny, A. Copley, C. Benavente, E. Aguirre, Extension and dynamics of the Andes inferred from the 2016 Parina (Huarichancara) earthquake Journal of Geophysical Research, 123, doi:10.1029/2018JB015588, 2018
  48. PDF version
  49. A. Copley, C. Grutzner, A. Howell, J. Jackson, C. Penney, and S. Wimpenny, Unexpected earthquake hazard revealed by Holocene rupture on the Kenchreai Fault (central Greece): Implications for weak sub-fault shear zones, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 486, 141-154, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2018.01.014, 2018
  50. PDF version
  51. G. Govin, Y. Najman, A. Copley, I. Millar, P. van der Beek, P. Huyghe, D. Grujic, J. Davenport, Timing and mechanism of the rise of the Shillong Plateau in the Himalayan foreland, Geology, doi:10.1130/G39864.1, 2018
  52. PDF version
  53. T.J. Craig and A. Copley, Forearc collapse, plate flexure, and seismicity within the downgoing plate along the Sunda Arc west of Sumatra, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 484, 81-91, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2017.12.004, 2018
  54. PDF version
  55. A. Copley, The strength of earthquake-generating faults, Journal of the Geological Society, doi:10.1144/jgs2017-037, 2018
  56. PDF version
  57. E.A. Ainscoe, J.R. Elliott, A. Copley, T.J. Craig, T. Li, B.E. Parsons, and R.T. Walker, Blind thrusting, surface folding, and the development of geological strcuture in the Mw6.3 2015 Pishan (China) earthquake, Journal of Geophysical Research, 122, doi:10.1002/2017JB014268, 2017
  58. PDF version
  59. K. Reynolds and A. Copley, Seismological constraints on the down-dip shape of normal faults, Geophysical Journal International, 213, p 534-560, 2017
  60. PDF version
  61. A. Howell, J. Jackson, A. Copley, D. McKenzie, and E. Nissen, Subduction and vertical coastal motions in the eastern Mediterranean, Geophysical Journal International, 211, p. 593-620, doi:10.1093/gji/ggx307, 2017
  62. PDF version
  63. C. Penney, F. Tavakoli, A. Saadat, H. Nankali, M. Sedighi, F. Khorrami, F. Sobouti, Z. Rafi, A. Copley, J. Jackson, and K. Priestley, Megathrust and accretionary wedge properties and behaviour in the Makran subduction zone, Geophysical Journal International, 209, p 1800-1830, 2017
  64. PDF version
  65. S. Wimpenny, A. Copley, and T. Ingleby, Fault mechanics and post-seismic deformation at Bam, SE Iran, Geophysical Journal International, 209, p 1018-1035, 2017
  66. PDF version
  67. A. Howell, K. Palamartchouk, X. Papanikolaou, D. Paradissis, C. Raptakis, A. Copley, P. England, and J. Jackson, The 2008 Methoni earthquake sequence: the relationship between the earthquake cycle on the subduction interface and coastal uplift in SW Greece, Geophysical Journal International, 208, p 1592-1610, 2017
  68. PDF version
  69. M. Talebian, A. Copley, M. Fattahi, M. Ghorashi, J.A. Jackson, H. Nazari, R.A. Sloan, R.T. Walker, Active faulting within a megacity: the geometry and slip rate of the Pardisan thrust in central Tehran, Iran, Geophysical Journal International, 207, p 1688-1699, 2016
  70. PDF version
  71. A. Copley and N. Woodcock, Estimates of fault strength from the Variscan foreland of the northern UK, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 451, p 108-113, 2016
  72. PDF version
  73. A. Copley and R. Jolivet, Fault rheology in an aseismic fold-thrust belt (Shahdad, eastern Iran), Journal of Geophysical Research, 121, doi:10.1002/2015JB012431, 2016
  74. PDF version
  75. Y. Najman, L. Bracciali, R.P. Parrish, E. Chisty, A. Copley, Evolving strain partitioning in the Eastern Himalaya: The growth of the Shillong Plateau, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 433, p.1-9, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.10.017, 2016
  76. PDF version
  77. J.R. Elliott, E.A. Bergman, A. Copley, A.R. Ghods, E.K. Nissen, B. Oveisi, M. Tatar, R.J. Walters, F. Yamini-Fard, The 2011 Mw 6.2 Khaki-Shonbe (Iran) Earthquake: Insights into seismic and aseismic shortening in the Zagros sedimentary cover, Earth and Space Science, 2, doi:10.1002/2015EA000098, 2015
  78. PDF version
  79. A. Copley, E. Karasozen, B. Oveisi, J.R. Elliott, S. Samsonov, E. Nissen, Seismogenic faulting of the sedimentary sequence and laterally variable material properties in the Zagros Mountains (Iran) revealed by the August 2014 Murmuri (E. Dehloran) earthquake sequence, Geophysical Journal International, 203, p.1436-1459, doi:10.1093/gji/ggv365, 2015
  80. PDF version
  81. C. Penney, A. Copley, and B. Oveisi, Subduction tractions and vertical axis rotations in the Zagros-Makran transition zone, SE Iran: the 11 May 2013 Mw 6.1 Minab earthquake, Geophysical Journal International, 202, p.1122-1136, doi:10.1093/gji/ggv202, 2015
  82. PDF version
  83. K. Reynolds, A. Copley, and E. Hussain, Evolution and dynamics of a fold-thrust belt: the Sulaiman Range of Pakistan, Geophysical Journal International, 201, p.683-710, doi:10.1093/gji/ggv005, 2015
  84. PDF version
  85. A. Copley, S. Mitra, R.A. Sloan, S. Gaonkar, and K. Reynolds, Active faulting in apparently stable peninsular India: rift inversion and a Holocene-age great earthquake on the Tapti Fault, Journal of Geophysical Research, doi:10.1002/2014JB011294, 2014
  86. PDF version
    Link to EOS 'Research Spotlight'
  87. A. Copley and K. Reynolds, Imaging topographic growth by long-lived postseismic afterslip at Sefidabeh, east Iran, Tectonics,DOI: 10.1002/2013TC003462, 2014
  88. PDF version
  89. T. Craig and A. Copley, An explanation for the age independence of oceanic elastic thickness estimates from flexural profiles at subduction zones, and implications for continental rheology, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 392, 207-216, 2014
  90. PDF version
  91. T. Craig A. Copley, and T. Middleton, Constraining fault friction in oceanic lithosphere using the dip angles of newly-formed faults at outer rises, Earth and Planetary Science Letters,392, 94-99, 2014
  92. PDF version
  93. A. Copley, Postseismic afterslip 30 years after the 1978 Tabas-e-Golshan (Iran) earthquake: observations and implications for the geological evolution of thrust belts, Geophysical Journal International,doi: 10.1093/gji/ggu023, 2014
  94. PDF version
  95. T. Craig A. Copley, and J. Jackson, A reassessment of outer-rise seismicity and its implications for the mechanics of oceanic lithosphere, Geophysical Journal International,197, 63-89, 2014
  96. PDF version
  97. T.A. Middleton and A. Copley, Constraining fault friction by re-examining earthquake nodal plane dips, Geophysical Journal International, 196, 671-680, 2014
  98. PDF version
  99. A. Copley, M. Faridi, M. Ghorashi, J. Hollingsworth, J. Jackson,H. Nazari, B. Oveisi, M. Talebian, The 2012 August 11 Ahar earthquakes: consequences for tectonics and earthquake hazard in the Turkish-Iranian Plateau Geophysical Journal International, 196, p. 15-21, 2014
  100. PDF version
  101. G.E. Campbell, R.T. Walker, K. Abdrakhmatov, JL. Schwenninger, J. Jackson, J.R. Elliott, and A. Copley, The Dzhungarian fault: Late Quaternary tectonics and slip rate of a major right-lateral strike-slip fault in the northern Tien Shan region, Journal of Geophysical Research,118, doi:10.1002/jgrb.50117, 2013
  102. PDF version
  103. Elliott, J.R., A. Copley, R. Holley, K. Scharer, and B. Parsons, The 2011 Mw 7.1 Van (Eastern Turkey) earthquake, Journal of Geophysical Research, 118, doi:10.1002/jgrb.50117, 2013
  104. PDF version
  105. Copley, A., The formation of mountain range curvature by gravitational spreading, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 351-352, p.208-214, 2012
  106. PDF version
  107. Craig, T., A. Copley, and J. Jackson, Thermal and tectonic consequences of India underthrusting Tibet, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 353-354, p.231-239, 2012
  108. PDF version
  109. Copley, A., J. Hollingsworth, and E. Bergman, Constraints on fault and lithosphere rheology from the coseismic slip and postseismic afterslip of the 2006 Mw7.0 Mozambique earthquake Journal of Geophysical Research, 117, doi:10.1029/2011JB008580, 2012
  110. PDF version
  111. Copley, A., J-P. Avouac, J. Hollingsworth, and S. Leprince, The 2001 Mw 7.6 Bhuj earthquake, low fault friction, and the crustal support of plate driving forces in India, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, doi:10.1029/2010JB008137, 2011
  112. PDF version
  113. Copley, A., J-P. Avouac and B.P. Wernicke, Evidence for mechanical coupling and strong Indian lower crust beneath southern Tibet, Nature, 472, p.79-81, doi:10.1038/nature09926, 2011
  114. PDF version
    'News and Views' article
  115. Copley, A., J-P. Avouac and J-Y. Royer, The India-Asia collision and the Cenozoic slowdown of the Indian plate; implications for the forces driving plate motions, Journal of Geophysical Research 115, doi:10.1029/2009JB006634, 2010
  116. PDF version
  117. Hollingsworth, J., M. Fattahi, R. Walker, M. Talebian, A. Bahroudi, M.J. Bolourchi, J.Jackson, and A. Copley, Oroclinal bending, distributed thrust and strike-slip faulting, and the accommodation of Arabia-Eurasia convergence in NE Iran since the Oligocene, , Geophysical Journal International, 2010
  118. PDF version
  119. Copley, A., F. Boait, J. Hollingsworth, J. Jackson and D. McKenzie, Sub-parallel thrust and normal faulting in Albania and the role of gravitational potential energy and rheology contrasts in mountain belts, Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, doi:10.1029/2008JB005931, 2009
  120. PDF Version
  121. Copley, A., Kinematics and dynamics of the southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, Geophysical Journal International , 174, 1081-1100, 2008
  122. PDF Version
  123. Copley, A. and D. McKenzie, Models of crustal flow in the India-Asia collision zone, Geophysical Journal International , 169, 683-698, 2007
  124. PDF Version
  125. Copley, A. and J. Jackson, Active Tectonics of the Turkish-Iranian Plateau, Tectonics , TC6006, doi:10.1029/2005TC001906, 2006
  126. PDF Version
  127. Talebian M., J. Biggs, M. Bolourchi, A. Copley, A. Ghassemi, M. Ghorashi, J. Hollingsworth, J.A. Jackson, E. Nissen, B. Oveisi, B.E. Parsons, and K. Priestley. The Dahiuyeh (Zarand) earthquake of 2005 February 22 in central Iran: reactivation of an intramountain reverse fault, Geophysical Journal International , 164, 137-148, 2006
  128. PDF Version

Other Writing