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Robert Parker

Dr Robert Parker

Honorary Lecturer

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Large earthquakes and storms commonly trigger widespread and destructive landsliding. At the interface of physical geography, engineering geology, geoinformatics and seismology, my research addresses how we can understand and predict the impact of these events. I am passionate about public communication of science, working closely with broadcast networks and the secondary education community to promote new scientific findings.

Latest updates

Supporting student success: Young Scientist of the Year Finalists

New research: Climate change to have ‘little effect’ on common landslides

Video: Remembering the 1966 Aberfan landslide disaster

New research: Do past earthquakes influence future landslides?

In the news: Supporting Nepal’s post-disaster efforts

Video: Using Django to predict landslides

Video: GCSE coastal landforms - Time for Geography

Key areas of research:

  • The impact of climate change on landslide hazards
  • Determining how landscape evolution and hillslope failure processes influence orogen-scale spatial and temporal patterns of landslide activity and hazard
  • Deriving practical outputs from this work, which are used to provide automated, rapid assessment of the large-scale impact of landslides. This applied work is carried out in collaboration with the international reinsurance broker Willis Re and the World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.
  • Exploring the process of competition between tectonic uplift and landslide erosion that builds mountain ranges – do earthquakes build or destroy topography?
  • Developing new remote sensing and field techniques for monitoring earth surface processes

Research impact and engagement

I am the director of the ShakeSlide project, which aims to provide near-real-time assessment of earthquake-induced landslide hazards, for use by disaster response and risk management organisations.

As Founder of Time for Geography, I am involved in creating inspiring, engaging geography learning videos for secondary school students and teachers.


PARKER, R. N., HALES, T. C., MUDD, S. M., GRIEVE, S. W. D. & CONSTANTINE, J. A. 2016. Colluvium supply in humid regions limits the frequency of storm-triggered landslides. Scientific Reports, 6, 34438.

HANCOX, G. T., RIES, W. F., PARKER, R. N. & ROSSER, B. 2016. Landslides caused by the MS 7.8 Murchison earthquake of 17 June 1929 in northwest South Island, New Zealand. GNS Science Report 2015/42, 2 Volumes, 127

PARKER, R. N., HANCOX, G. T., PETLEY, D. N., MASSEY, C. I., DENSMORE, A. L. & ROSSER, N. J. 2015. Spatial distributions of earthquake-induced landslides and hillslope preconditioning in the northwest South Island, New Zealand. Earth Surf. Dynam., 3, 501-525.

LI, G., WEST, A. J., DENSMORE, A. L., JIN, Z., PARKER, R. N. & HILTON, R. G. 2014. Seismic mountain building: Landslides associated with the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in the context of a generalized model for earthquake volume balance. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 15, 833-844.

HANCOX, G. T., RIES, W., LUKOVIC, B. & PARKER, R. 2014. Landslides and ground damage caused by the Mw 7.1 Inangahua Earthquake of 24th May 1968 in north west South Island, New Zealand. New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences: GNS Science Report 2014/06.

PARKER, R., PETLEY, D., DENSMORE, A., ROSSER, N., DAMBY, D. & BRAIN, M. 2013. Progressive Failure Cycles and Distributions of Earthquake-Triggered Landslides. In: UGAI, K., YAGI, H. & WAKAI, A. (eds.) Earthquake-Induced Landslides: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Earthquake-Induced Landslides, Kiryu, Japan, 2012. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

DENSMORE, A. L., PARKER, R. N., ROSSER, N. J., DE MICHELE, M., YONG, L., RUNQIU, H., WHADCOAT, S. & PETLEY, D. N. 2012. Reply to 'Isostasy can't be ignored'. Nature Geoscience, 5, 83-84.

PARKER, R. N., DENSMORE, A. L., ROSSER, N. J., DE MICHELE, M., LI, Y., HUANG, R., WHADCOAT, S. & PETLEY, D. N. 2011. Mass wasting triggered by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake is greater than orogenic growth. Nature Geoscience, 4, 449-452.

MURPHY, W., PARKER, R. N. & HANCOX, G. Back analysis of landslides triggered by earthquakes – some implications for future practice.  International Symposium on Rock Slope Stability in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering, 2011 Vancouver, Canada.

PARKER, R., PETLEY, D., ROSSER, N., DENSMORE, A. & WHADCOAT, S. 2010. Mapping and monitoring the spatial distribution of landslide hazards induced by the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, Sichuan Province, China. Geologically Active - 11th International Association for Engineering Geology Congress. Aukland, New Zealand.

PARKER, R. N., ROSSER, N. J., DENSMORE, A. L. & PETLEY, D. N. 2009. Automated landslide detection algorithms to investigate controls on the spatial distribution of landslides triggered by the Wenchuan earthquake, Sichuan Province, China. The Next Generation of Research on Earthquake-triggered Landslides: An International Conference in Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Chi-Chi Earthquake. National Central University, Taiwan.



Post-doctoral Research Associate, Cardiff University School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


PhD entitled Hillslope memory and spatial and temporal distributions of earthquake-induced landslides, Durham University


MSc by research thesis entitled Controls on the distribution of landslides triggered by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, Sichuan Province, China, Durham University (Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society prize)


BSc in Physical Geography (1st class honours), Durham University