Geoffrey C. P. King

Physicien exceptionel

Laboratoire de Tectonique,

IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris)
1, rue Jussieu - 75238 Paris Cedex 05 – France

Honorary Professor

Department of Archaeology

The King's Manor

Y01 7EP York


+33 1 83 95 76 22 lab

+33 6 80 96 03 77 mobile


Geoffrey Charles Plume King was born in Uganda and educated in Scotland and England. Following a degree in Applied Physics at Durham, he gained a PhD in Geophysics at Cambridge where he stayed for many years. Early research concerned the development of strain and tilt instruments, but later extended to seismology. He led post-earthquake interventions to several major earthquakes around the Mediterranean. The studies included fault mapping and measuring and dating uplift associated with previous earthquake cycles together with aftershock studies and studies of the main event using waveform modelling of teleseismic data. For five years he then worked for the US Geological Survey in Denver and Menlo Park for part of which time he was director of the civilian seismic network concerned with establishing hazard at the proposed high level nuclear waste repository in Nevada. Parallel with these studies he developed techniques for modelling deformation resulting from repeating earthquakes; a quantitative method for studying the evolution of morphology. This also led to collaboration with archaeologists to understand the role of landforms in hominin evolution. A 2006 paper on the topic in the archaeological journal Antiquity received their prestigious prize for 2006. The study of stress interactions between earthquakes has also been an important area of research with a 1994 paper being quoted by ISI Essential Science Indicators as the most highly quoted paper in earthquake studies over the last 10 years. Field areas include China, India Pakistan, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Ethiopia, South Africa, the Levant and the USA. For more than 15 years King has worked for the Institut de Physique du Globe first in Strasbourg and then in Paris where he became director of the “Equipe de Tectonique”. He has published more than 170 research papers, is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and appointed “Class exceptionel” in the Institut de Physique du Globe. Other awards come from the Greek Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1997 Geoff Bailey and Geoffrey King were awarded a European Senior Researcher Grant (DISPERSE) to study hominin dispersal from Africa. Geoffrey King used this support to initiate a project in Kenya. The objective is to reconstruct earlier environments. Because of the predominance of volcanic rocks in the Rift Valley many soils lack essential trace nutrients. As a result animals must move around during the year to avoid suffering debilitating health. Major hominin sites can be shown to relate strongly to good soils. Animal movements appear to have allowed the development of Ambush Hunting by Homo erectus.

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