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John Browning, BSc, MSc, PhD

Assistant Professor


Course co-ordinator


  • 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:


  • Matias Clunes, PUC (1st year); CONICYT funded PhD investigating the influence of crustal heterogeneity and anisotropy in magma propagation and storage in Andean environments. 


  • Blaise Winnard, UCL (3rd year); 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 (Final year); Departmental funded PhD investigating mechanisms of dyke propagation and arrest at Santorini caldera. A primarily field based study which is 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.



MSci / MSc students:

  • Javiera Ruz, PUC: Studying the interaction between crustal faults and magma propagation. 


  • Ali Daoud, UCL; 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’.


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


  • Jack McGrath, UCL: 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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