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John Browning, BSc, MSc, PhD


Course co-ordinator

  • Capstone in Geosciences (ICE2023)

A final year course for the Major in Geoscience. Students learn to generate a geological map through a 2 week field camp (in Farrellones - the High Cordillera of Chile or Pan de Azucar - in the Coastal range of Northern Chile). 

  • Rock mechanics (ICE3635) - Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Catolica


A postgraduate level course designed to teach students fundamental and advanced concepts in Rock Mechanics. Students undertake a laboratory-based project in order to characterize rock physical properties through UCS deformation tests and Ultrasonic wave velocity measurements. 


  • Rock mechanics for mining (IMM2083) - Department of Mining Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Catolica


An undergraduate-level course designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of rock mechanics with relation to practical application in mining. 

  • Superficial geological processes and hazards (ICE2029) - Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Catolica

An undergraduate-level course designed to provide students with an introduction to surface geological processes and their relation with geological hazards. 


  • Joint module leader for the course ‘GEOL 2026 – Maps, Images, and Structures’ a 2nd-year module at University College London.


Course aimed to enable students to analyze geological maps and begin to observe, record and interpret geological outcrops in the field.  We provide students with an introduction to the morphological and mechanistic features of structural geology, as well as all the types of structure likely to be encountered by students undertaking field mapping in later years.



  • Lecturer for MSc course 'GEOLGG1 - Research methods'. 


This module introduces students to the practical aspects of research methods in rock characterization and rock mechanics. Students learn how rock mechanical tests are conducted and the data analyzed by carrying out Uniaxial Compression tests (UCS) on different rock samples. The students characterize each material using benchtop ultrasonic wave velocity measurements and helium pycnometry. High-speed camera footage is captured during each test and rupture velocities calculated.



  • Lecturer for the NERC London doctoral training program (DTP) field course in California


An innovative student led field course designed to introduce students from various backgrounds to concepts in Geology and Biology.


  • Lecturer for the 3rd year course ‘GL3640 – Volcanology’ at Royal Holloway, University of London on topics related to conduit processes, fluid dynamics, experimental methods in volcanology, and eruption dynamics.


  • Lecturer for the 2nd year course ‘GL2320 – Geohazards’ at Royal Holloway, University of London on topics related to physical hazards and risks associated with geological events such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunami. Designed and ran a practical exercise on hazards from Mt Etna where the students estimate lava flow velocities and evacuation timescales.  


  • Lecturer for the 2nd year course ‘GL2900 – Field methods in geology’ at Royal Holloway, University of London where I jointly planned and assisted the field teaching component at the volcanic island of Tenerife.


  • Teaching assistant for courses ‘GL1460 – Igneous and metamorphic geology’ and ‘GL1600 – Earth structures’ and ‘GL2600 – Structural analysis and remote sensing’ all at Royal Holloway, University of London.


PhD students:


  • Paulina Vergara, PUC (2nd year): Determination of variable tectonic vs climatic controls on coastal marine terrace anatomy. 

  • Valentina Mura, PUC (3rd year): ANID funded project: Multi-scale fracture characterization of a geothermal reservoir at Nevados de Chillan volcano. Uses outcrop and borehole fracture intensity measures alongside laboratory rock mechanics testing in order to determine the rheological response of the principal lithological units of the volcano to crustal loading and estimate the geothermal potential of the geothermal reservoir. 

  • Javier Espinosa, PUC (3rd year): ANID funded project: The role of crustal structures and geofluids in volcano and geothermal system architecture through macro fracture characterization utilizing UAV imagery and magnetologic subsurface imagery.   

  • Jorge Osvaldo, PUC (3rd year): ANID funded project: Geological safety and optimisation in mining operations: towards a new understanding of the effect of fracture damage, heterogeneity and anisotropy in rock masses. An FEM and laboratory rock physics project applied to prediction of strain burst activity in deep underground copper mines. 

  • Matias Villarroel, PUC (Final year): ANID funded project: Relation between stress fields associated with caldera formation and deformation due to nucleation and slip on pre-existing regional faults. 

  • Matias Clunes, PUC (Completed); ANID funded project: Magmatic storage, movement and crustal deformation in regions of intense folding and non-horizontal stratification. Published 1 paper in EPSL and 1 paper in GSA Geology. ECR representative for VIPS.

  • Blaise Winnard, UCL (Completed); EPSRC CASE PhD investigating the long-term performance of a radioactive waste disposal facility in response to permafrost and climatic variation. This project is concerned with testing the physical properties of bentonite and its response to temperature cycling under conditions that have been simulated with climate models. 

  • Kyriaki Drymoni, RHUL (Completed); Departmental funded PhD investigating mechanisms of dyke propagation and arrest at Santorini caldera. A primarily field and numerical modelling-based study which was concerned with mapping the northern section of the caldera wall at Santorini in order to understand the physics of dyke propagation. Components of the project also include microscope and SEM analysis, numerical modelling and microstructural characterisation. Has published extensively and is the ECR representative for IAVCEI.  


MSci / MSc students:

  • Fernanda Mechada (1st year): Seismic characterization of fracture damage related to biaxial loading in rock analogues, 

  • Karin Hofner (Final year): Study of alteration halos associated with fluid flow in fault intersection zones

  • Flavia Rojas (Final year): Shallow conduit architecture and textural evidence of explosive to effusive eruption transitions on the flanks of the Nevados de Chillan volcano

  • Camila Gilberto (Completed): Diversity of Miocene volcanism in the Central Andean Cordillera NE of Santiago. Manuscript submitted to Bulletin of Volcanology

  • Tomas Hidalgo (Completed): An experimental study of fracture propagation under biaxial loading conditions with implications for block caving processes.

  • Javiera Ruz (Completed): Interactions between magmatic dykes and faults in the Laguna del Maule complex. Has published 3 papers with a further paper imminent. Currently studying a PhD at Otago University with James White.

  • Yixi Lin, UCL (Completed): Investigating near surface weathering through thermal degradation.

  • Ali Daoud, UCL (Completed); Investigating the presence of a Kaiser ‘temperature memory effect’ in volcanic rocks. This project utilises measurements of acoustic measurements in a uniaxial loading cell and a high temperature furnace to compare and contrast the mechanical Kaiser damage effect to the postulated Kaiser ‘temperature memory effect’. Published 1 paper in GRL.

  • Kashish Gupta, UCL (Completed): Investigating inflation, magma chamber geometry and rupture characteristics to make a generic model of magma chamber rupture.

  • Jack McGrath, UCL (Completed): Testing failure forecast models in the tensile field through Uniaxial brazil tests. Results are applied to rupture of volcanic edifices which are most commonly found in extension regimes.


Internships (2nd supervisor):


  • Pratibha Srivastava and Fiona Acris (UCL); Investigating edge effects in material deformed under true-triaxial loading. This short (2 month) project involved the characterisation of material deformed under true-triaxial stresses to ascertain the degree of boundary or edge effects. The students used SEM images, permeability and ultrasonic wave velocities to investigate this problem. The results were presented at an international conference.    


  • Jian Li (UCL): Investigating thermal cracking and unloading processes in exhumed rock masses.

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