Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Emrys Phillips

Department / group: Marine Geoscience
Institution URL:
Google Scholar URL: N/A

Research interests:

Structural Glaciology

Career history:

I currently hold an Individual Merit Promotion (Band 3) Research Scientist post within the Marine Geoscience directorate with an expertise in the macro- and microstructural analysis of deformed glacial sediments, and the control of subglacial deformation on ice sheet dynamics and glacier motion. I have over 27 years’ experience and my primary role at BGS has been to provide detailed specialist scientific input into the Survey’s multidisciplinary science programme; often developing and/or driving the direction of scientific investigation. I have gained extensive experience in the petrological, mineralogical and structural analysis of deformed and metamorphosed terranes, working on a variety of projects throughout the UK landmass, Iceland, Poland, Germany, North America (Canada), Africa (Botswana) and the Middle East (United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia). In the past 15 years I have specialized in the study of deformed glacial materials (ice and sediments). Research topics covered have included: the role of melt water in the transportation of ice-rafted sediments; understanding the complex strain signatures imparted on glacial sediments in response to polyphase proglacial, ice marginal and subglacial deformation; subglacial processes and glacier bed deformation, and its control on the forward motion of glaciers and ice sheets; bedrock controls on subglacial landform distribution; the role of glacitectonism in subglacial landform development; and investigating the internal 3D structural architecture of modern glaciers and how this relates to subglacial and ice-marginal processes, the forward motion of ice masses and their structural response to recent climate driven changes in mass-balance.
To date I have over 280 publications, including peer-reviewed journal articles, books, memoirs, geological maps, outreach documents and publically available technical reports. I am a Chartered Geologist, Fellow of the Geological Society of London, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Vice President of the Edinburgh Geological Society, President of the Westmorland Geological Society, former Executive Member of the Quaternary Research Association and Honorary Professor in the Department of Geography, Queen Mary University of London.

Active research projects:

• Glacitectonic history and depositional setting of the Quaternary glacigenic sequences of Alberta, Canada, in collaboration with Dr Nigel Atkinson (Alberta Geological Survey) and Prof David Evans (Durham).
• Micromorphological analysis of glacigenic sediments in collaboration with Prof Jaap van der Meer (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Simon Carr (Queen Mary, University of London) and Dr Ewelina Lipka (AMU, Poznan).
• Structural evolution of Kvíárjökull, SE Iceland in collaboration with Prof David Evans (Durham University), Dr Marek Ewertowski (Durham University), Dr Andrew Finlayson (BGS), Dr Jeremy Everest (BGS).
• Glacitectonic history and depositional setting of the Mid-Pleistocene (Anglian) glacigenic sequences of North Norfolk, in collaboration with Dr Jonathan Lee (BGS).
• Bølling-Allerød glacier dynamics in lower Borgarfjörður, western Iceland: multiple-scale and multi-proxy analysis of glacitectonics, in collaboration with Dr Ívar Örn Benediktsson (Lund University, Sweden), Dr Ólafur Ingólfsson (University of Iceland, UNIS Svalbard), Dr Anders Schomacker (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim), Dr Hreggviður Norðdahl (University of Iceland) and Ms Þorbjörg Sigfúsdóttir (Lund, Sweden).
• Structural evolution of Múlajökull (Iceland) and the relationship between the 3D structural architecture of the glacier and drumlins emerging at the ice margin, in collaboration with Dr Ívar Örn Benediktsson (Lund University, Sweden), Dr Anders Schomacker (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway), Prof Ólafur Ingólfsson (UNIS, Svalbard), Dr Mark Johnson (Gothenburg University, Sweden) and Prof Neal R. Iverson (Iowa State University, USA).
• 3D Structural architecture of the Quaternary sediments in the Dogger Bank area of the central southern North Sea,

Recent publications:

2. Phillips, E., Cotterill, C., Johnson, K., Crombie, K., James, L., Carr, S., Ruiter, A. 2017. Large-scale glacitectonic deformation in response to active ice sheet retreat across Dogger Bank (southern central North Sea) during the Last Glacial Maximum. Quaternary Science Reviews 179, 24-47.
3. Cotterill, C., Phillips, E., James, L., Forsberg, C-F., Tjelta, T.I., Carter, G., Dove, D. 2017. The evolution of the Dogger Bank, North Sea: A complex history of terrestrial, glacial and marine environmental change. Quaternary Science Reviews, 171, 136-153.
4. Cotterill, C., Phillips, E., James, L., Forsberg, C-F., Tjelta, T.I. 2017. How understanding past landscapes might inform present-day site investigations: a case study from Dogger Bank, southern central North Sea. Near Surface Geophysics, 15, 403-413.
5. Phillips, E., Evans, D.J.A., Atkinson, N., Kendall, A. 2017. Structural architecture and glacitectonic evolution of the Mud Buttes cupola hill complex, southern Alberta, Canada. Quaternary Science Reviews, 164, 110-139.
6. Phillips, E., Everest, J., Evans, D.J.A., Finlayson, A., Ewertowski, M., Guild, A. Jones, L. 2017. Concentrated, “pulsed” axial glacier flow: structural glaciological evidence from Kvíárjökull in SE Iceland. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. DOI: 10.1002/esp.4145.
7. Phillips, E., Hodgson, D.M., Emery, A.R. 2017. The Quaternary geology of the North Sea Basin. Journal of Quaternary Geology 32, 117-126. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2932.
8. Gehrmann, A., Hüneke, H., Meschede, M., Phillips, E. 2017. 3D microstructural architecture of deformed glacigenic sediments associated with large-scale glacitectonism, Jasmund Peninsula (NE Rügen), Germany. Journal of Quaternary Science 32, 213-230. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2843.
9. Lee, J.R., Phillips, E., Rose, J., Vaughan-Hirsch, D. 2017. The Middle Pleistocene glacial evolution of northern East Anglia, UK: a dynamic tectonostratigraphic–parasequence approach. Journal of Quaternary Science 32, 231-260. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2838.
10. Vaughan-Hirsch, D.P., Phillips, E.R. 2017. Mid-Pleistocene thin-skinned glaciotectonic thrusting of the Aberdeen Ground Formation, Central Graben region, central North Sea. Journal of Quaternary Science 32, 196-212. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2836.
11. Spagnolo, M., Phillips, E., Piotrowski, J.A., Rea, B.R., Clark, C.D., Stokes, C.R., Carr, S.J., Ely, J.C., Adriano Ribolini, A., Wysota, W., Izabela Szuman, I. 2016. Ice stream motion facilitated by a shallow-deforming and accreting bed. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10723.
12. Lee, J.R., Wakefield, O.J.W., Phillips, E., Hughes, L. 2015. Sedimentary and structural evolution of a relict subglacial to subaerial drainage system and its hydrogeological implications: an example from Anglesey, north Wales, UK. Quaternary Science Reviews, 109, 88-110.
13. Phillips, E., Finlayson, A., Bradwell, T., Everest, J., Jones, J. 2014. Structural evolution triggers a dynamic reduction in active glacier length during rapid retreat: evidence from Falljökull, SE Iceland. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 119, doi:10.1002/2014JF003165.
14. Phillips, E., Hughes, L. 2014. Hydrofracturing in response to the development of an overpressurised subglacial meltwater system during drumlin formation: an example from Anglesey, NW Wales. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 125, 296–311.
15. Merritt, J.W., Akhurst, M.C., Wilkinson, I.P., Riding, J.B., Phillips, E.R., Smith, R.A., Finlayson, A., Dean, M.T. 2014. The Late Pleistocene Afton Lodge Clay Formation, Ayrshire, Scotland: evidence for Early to Middle Devensian climatic changes and Late Devensian onshore ice flow and rafting from the Firth of Clyde. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association. Proceedings of the Geologists Association, 125. 195-214.
16. Phillips, E.R., Lipka, E., van der Meer, J.J.M. 2013. Micromorphological evidence of liquefaction and sediment deposition during basal sliding of glaciers. Quaternary Science Reviews 81, 114-137.
17. Phillips, E.R., Finlayson, A., Jones, L. 2013. Fracturing, block-faulting and moulin development associated with progressive collapse and retreat of a polar maritime glacier: Virkisjökull-Falljökull, SE Iceland. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. 118, 1-17.
18. Vaughan-Hirsch, D.P., Phillips, E., Lee, J.R., Hart, J. K. 2013. Micromorphological analysis of polyphase deformation associated with the transport and emplacement of glaciotectonic rafts at West Runton, north Norfolk, UK. Boreas, 42, 376–394.
19. Lee, J.R., Phillips, E., Booth, S.J., Rose, J., Jordan, H.M., Pawley, S.M., Warren, M., Lawley, R.S. 2013. A polyphase glacitectonic model for ice-marginal retreat and terminal moraine development: the Middle Pleistocene British Ice Sheet, northern Norfolk, UK. Proceedings of the Geologists Association, 124. 753-777
20. Lee, J.R., Phillips, E. 2013. Glacitectonics – a key to examining ice dynamics, substrate rheology and ice-bed coupling. Proceedings of the Geologists Association, 124. 731-737.
21. Phillips, E., Lee, J.R., Riding, J.B., Kendall, R., Hughes, L. 2013. Periglacial disruption and subsequent glacitectonic deformation of bedrock: an example from Anglesey, North Wales, UK. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association. Proceedings of the Geologists Association, 124. 802-817.
22. Phillips, E., Lee, J.R. 2013. Development of a subglacial drainage system and its effect on glacitectonism within the Middle Pleistocene (Anglian) of North Norfolk. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, 124. 855-875. (contribution 80%).
23. Phillips, E.R., Waters, C.N., Ellison, R.A. 2013. The Jurassic-Cretaceous depositional and tectonic evolution of the south-western margin of the Neotethys Ocean, Northern Oman and United Arab Emirates. In Al Hosani, K., Roure, F., Ellison, R.A., Lokier, S (Eds.). Lithosphere Dynamics and Sedimentary Basins: The Arabian Plate and Analogues, Frontiers in Earth Sciences. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg pp 61-100.
24. Phillips, E., Everest, J., Reeves, H. 2012. Micromorphological evidence for subglacial multiphase sedimentation and deformation during overpressurized fluid flow associated with hydrofracturing. Boreas, 42, 395–427.
25. Waller, R., Phillips, E.R, Murton, J., Lee, J.R., Whiteman, C. 2011. Sand intraclasts as evidence of subglacial deformation of Middle Pleistocene permafrost, north Norfolk, UK. Quaternary Science Reviews, 30, 3481-3500.
26. Lee, J.R., Rose, J., Hamblin, R.J.O., Moorlock, B.S.P., Riding, J.B., Phillips, E., Barendregt, R.W., Candy, I. 2011. The Glacial History of the British Isles during the Early and Middle Pleistocene: Implications for the long-term development of the British Ice Sheet. In Ehlers, J., Gibbard, P.L. & Hughes, P.D. (editors) Developments in Quaternary Science, 15, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Elsevier.

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