Professor Tony Morris

Professor Tony Morris


School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


Professor of Geophysics and Geodynamics

Associate Head of School (Research)


B.Sc. (Hons.) Environmental Sciences, majoring in Geological Sciences (University of East Anglia)

M.Sc. Geophysics (University of Durham)

Ph.D. Geophysics/Geology (University of Edinburgh)

Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (University of Plymouth)

Accredited Teacher in Higher Education (UK Staff and Educational Development Association)

Professional membership

Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society

Fellow of the Geological Society of London

Member of the British Geophysical Association

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Member of the American Geophysical Union

Roles on external bodies

  • Chair of the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling Science Support and Advisory Committee (ESSAC) 2018-2019. In this capacity I lead the Program Management Office for European (and Canadian) involvement in the International Ocean Discovery Program, responsible for selection of scientists to participate in IODP expeditions and for a wide range of grants, scholarships and outreach events
  • UK Representative on ESSAC (2015-) 
  • Member of the Program Advisory Group, UK-IODP
  • Natural Environment Research Council Peer Review College member (2005-2008)
  • Treasurer of the British Geophysical Association (2004-2011)

Teaching interests

As a geophysicist I am interested in applying physical methods to look at plate tectonic and geodynamic processes. In addition, I use field studies to examine the evidence for oceanic crustal processes preserved in ophiolites. I have worked mainly in the eastern Mediterranean orogenic belt, but also have extensive experience of engagement with the International Ocean Discovery Program (that collects rock and sediment samples from the present-day ocean basins via scientific ocean drilling). I use my wide range of interests to inform my teaching. For example, I organise an annual nine-day field excursion to the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus, drawing upon my research interests in this globally significant ophiolite.

Research interests

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-2862-7377

I use geophysical magnetic methods to investigate fundamental crustal processes.

The main focus of my research has been the magnetic analysis of samples of oceanic lithosphere recovered from the world's oceans by the International Ocean Discovery Program and innovative investigations of major ophiolites (slices of oceanic lithosphere that have been emplaced tectonically on to land). 

International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) research:

I have sailed five times on the JOIDES Resolution, the state-of-the-art scientific drillship operated by IODP, and once on the RRS James Cook (part of the UK research fleet). My first expedition was in 2004/2005 on IODP Expedition 304/305. This  recovered a complexly layered sequence of gabbros and minor ultramafic rocks from the footwall of a major oceanic core complex known as Atlantis Massif, located at 30 degrees north on the Mid Atlantic Ridge. The core, extending to over 1400 mbsf, opens a window in to lower crustal accretion processes. Shorebased research was carried out in collaboration with Prof Chris MacLeod (Cardiff University), Prof Jeff Gee (Scripps Institution) and Prof Bobbie John (University of Wyoming). The award of a NERC Standard Research Grant allowed us to conduct detailed palaeomagnetic analyses of the Expedition 304/305 core materials, and to combine these with wireline log interpretation, geochronological and geochemical data to provide important insights into the spatial and temporal controls of the accretion of slow-spreading rate lower oceanic crust. The project benefited from the research of Dr Nicola Pressling, a NERC research fellow funded by the project.

In January-February 2008 I sailed on an IODP Site Survey cruise to the tectonic exposures of fast-spreading rate oceanic crust at Hess Deep, as part of a NERC funded cruise aboard the (then) new James Cook research vessel (cruise JC21). This provided essential site survey data (bathymetric swath-mapping and sampling using the NERC remotely operated vehicle ISIS) to support future IODP drilling at this key locality (IODP Proposal #551). 

In April - June 2011, I was back on the "JR" as Lead Shipboard Palaeomagnetist on IODP Expedition 335, part of the "Superfast Spreading Crust" campaign focused on Hole 1256D. This deep hole was the first to reach the uppermost in situ gabbroic lower crust. Unfortunately, recovery during Exp 335 was limited due to challenging hole conditions, but samples have provided insights into the nature of the thermal boundary layer at the top of the lower crust.

In December 2012-February 2013 I was Lead Shipboard Palaeomagnetist on IODP Expedition 345 to Hess Deep in the Pacific Ocean. This recovered a suite of cores from primitive lower crustal layered gabbros for the first time, confirming the broad features of the ophiolite paradigm and providing a complete picture of the bulk geochemistry of fast-spreading EPR crust. Post cruise research is focusing on the development of magnetic fabrics in these layered gabbros and the origin of multicomponent remanences in these rocks.

In June-July 2014, I was back on board the JR again, this time as Lead Shipboard Palaeomagnetist on IODP Expedition 351 "Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc Origins", one of three back-to-back drilling expeditions designed to examine the evolution of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc system in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. This sampled a 1.4 km sedimentary succession documenting the responses of the upper plate to subduction initiation and the subsequent arc evolution. The site also penetrated into the "basaltic" basement, providing insights into the geochemistry and age of the basement rocks. Post-cruise research involved collaboration with Dr Marco Maffione (now at Birmingham University) to investigate the development of magnetic fabrics in deep sea pelagic sediments, and the palaeolatitudinal movement of the Philippine Sea plate.

Most recently, in December 2015 - January 2016 I sailed as Lead Palaeomagnetist on IODP Expedition 360 "Indian Ridge Moho", that drilled into the footwall of the Atlantis Bank oceanic core complex on the SW Indian Ridge. This long-term project offers the prospect of drilling vertically through a geomagnetic reversal boundary in the oceanic crust for the first time, although we did not reach this level during Expedition 360 unfortunately.

Ophiolite research:

In addition to research in oceanic lithosphere via the IODP, I have also focused on the application of palaeomagnetic and magnetic fabric techniques to a range of geodynamic and tectonic problems within ophiolites of the Tethyan orogenic belt and elsewhere. Field areas have included Albania, Canada, Cyprus, Oman, Syria and Turkey. In most cases, this has involved using advanced net tectonic rotation analysis methods to interpret paleomagnetic magnetisation data (a novel approach that out-performs standard structural corrections in complex ophiolite settings). Examples of these projects include:

(i) an integrated palaeomagnetic and structural analysis of the tectonic evolution of the Hatay ophiolite, southern Turkey (PhD research of Jennifer Inwood), proving that it rotated as part of a broad oceanic microplate along with the Baer-Bassit ophiolite (NW Syria) and Troodos ophiolite (Cyprus)

(ii) proving paleomagnetically that an oceanic core complex is preserved in the Mirdita ophiolite of Albania, extending the record of slow-spreading rate detachment-mode seafloor spreading back to the Jurassic (postdoctoral research of Marco Maffione)

(iii) showing that the tectonic evolution of the Mersin ophiolite (Turkey), which exposes a superb sequence of lower oceanic crustal gabbros, involved detachment-mode seafloor spreading and progressive rotation (including a major phase of rotation in the footwall of an oceanic core complex after emplacement of the Mersin metamorphic sole) (PhD research of Ahmed Omer and ResM research of Bugra Cavdar)

(iv) magnetic fabric analyses of gabbros in the fast-spreading rate Oman ophiolite and their implication for lower crustal accretion (PhD research of Matthew Meyer)

(v) determining the origin of fluid-mediated remagnetisation of the southern massifs of the Oman ophiolite using paleomagnetism, magnetic fabric analysis and end member modelling of isothermal remanent magnetisation acquisition curves (PhD research of Louise Koornneef)

(vi) magnetic fabric analysis of the Ordovician Thetford Mines ophiolite of the Canadian Appalachian mountains, where tectonic fabrics during late stage orogenesis (Acadian orogeny) have largely obliterated primary seafloor fabrics in the ophiolite (postdoctoral research of Anita Di Chiara)

(vii) reconstructing the kinematics of Late Cretaceous subduction initiation in the Neotethys Ocean by restoring paleoridge orientations in eastern Mediterranean opholites (via a collaboration with the ERC "SINK" research programme led by Douwe van Hinsbergen, Utrecht University)

Grants & contracts


2016 - NERC Standard Grant, “Magnetization and tectonic evolution of ultraslow-spreading rate lower oceanic crust, Atlantis Bank, SW Indian Ridge (IODP Expedition 360)” (PI: Morris) (£35,878)

2015 - EU Marie Curie IF Award, Jan 2015, "PASS: Palaeozoic Seafloor Spreading" (PI: Morris, CI: Anderson, Research Fellow: di Chiara)(183,000 Euros)

2014 - NERC Standard Grant, "Rotation of the Philippine Sea Plate (IODP Expedition 351)" (PI: Morris)(£35,828)

2012 - NERC Standard Grant, "Palaeomagnetic constraints on lower oceanic crustal processes (IODP Expedition 345 Hess Deep Plutonic Crust" (PI: Morris)(£25,456)

2011 - NERC Standard Grant, "Superfast spreading rate crust 4: magnetism of the lower oceanic crust" (PI: Morris)(£12,425)

2010 - EU Marie Curie IEF Award, Jan 2010, "DEFOrm: Detachment Faults in Ophiolites" (PI: Morris, CI: Anderson, Research Fellow: Maffione)(176,000 Euros)

2007 - NERC Standard Grant, July 2006, "Spatial and temporal scales of crustal accretion in slow-spreading rate oceanic crust (Atlantis Massif, Mid Atlantic Ridge - IODP Site U1309D)" (PI: Morris, CI: MacLeod (Cardiff), Project Partners: Gee (Scripps), John (Wyoming))(£217,400)

2006 - NERC UK IODP Rapid Response Grant, May 2006, "Palaeomagnetic constraints on the construction of the lower oceanic crustal section recovered at Hole U1309D, Atlantis Massif, Mid-Atlantic Ridge (IODP Expedition 304/305)" (£1890)

2004 - NERC UK IODP Site Survey Initiative Standard Grant, May 2004, "Accretion of the lower oceanic crust at fast-spreading ridges: a rock drill and near-bottom seafloor survey in support of IODP drilling in Hess Deep" (PI: MacLeod (Cardiff) CI: Teagle (Soton), RR: Morris + Project Partners)(£474,413)


Research groups

  • Geodynamics and Palaeomagnetism

Key publications are highlighted

Morris A, Meyer M, Anderson MA & MacLeod C 2019 'What do variable magnetic fabrics in gabbros of the Oman ophiolite reveal about lower crustal magmatism at fast spreading ridges?' Geology 47, (3) 275-278 , DOI PEARL
Morris A, Anderson MW, Omer A, Maffione M & van Hinsbergen DJJ 2017 'Rapid fore-arc extension and detachment-mode spreading following subduction initiation' Earth and Planetary Science Letters , DOI PEARL
Maffione M & Morris A 2017 'The onset of fabric development in deep marine sediments' Earth and Planetary Science Letters 474, 32-39 , DOI PEARL
Maffione M, van Hinsbergen DJJ, de Gelder GINO, van der Goes FC & Morris A 2017 'Kinematics of Late Cretaceous subduction initiation in the Neo-Tethys Ocean reconstructed from ophiolites of Turkey, Cyprus, and Syria' Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth , DOI PEARL
Morris A, Meyer M, Anderson MW & MacLeod CJ 2016 'Clockwise rotation of the entire Oman ophiolite occurred in a suprasubduction zone setting' Geology , DOI PEARL
Tominaga M, Tivey MA, MacLeod CJ, Morris A, Lissenberg CJ, Shillington DJ & Ferrini V 2016 'Characterization of the in situ magnetic architecture of oceanic crust (Hess Deep) using near-source vector magnetic data' JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH 121, (6) 4130-4146 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Arculus RJ, Ishizuka O, Bogus KA, Gurnis M, Hickey-Vargas R, Aljahdali MH, Bandini-Maeder AN, Barth AP, Brandl PA 2016 'Reply to 'Unclear causes for subduction'' Nature Geoscience 9, (5) 338-339 , DOI PEARL
Morris A & Maffione M 2016 'Is the Troodos ophiolite (Cyprus) a complete, transform fault-bounded Neotethyan ridge segment?' GEOLOGY 44, (3) 199-202 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Ciazela J, Dick HJB, MacLeod CJ, Blum P, Abe N, Blackman DK, Bowles JA, Cheadle MJ, Cho K, et. al 2016 'IODP Expedition 360: First stage of drilling into Earth's Mantle' Przeglad Geologiczny 64, (11) 889-895
Trela J, Ferré EC, Launeau P, Bartz DM & Morris A 2015 'Magmatic accretion and thermal convection at the sheeted dike complex–gabbro boundary in superfast spreading crust, ODP Hole 1256D' Tectonophysics 660, 107-116 , DOI
Arculus RJ, Ishizuka O, Bogus KA, Gurnis M, Hickey-Vargas R, Aljahdali MH, Bandini-Maeder AN, Barth AP, Brandl PA 2015 'A record of spontaneous subduction initiation in the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc' NATURE GEOSCIENCE 8, (9) 728-733 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Morris A, Robertson AHF, Anderson MW & Hodgson E 2015 'Did the Kyrenia Range of northern Cyprus rotate with the Troodos-Hatay microplate during the tectonic evolution of the eastern Mediterranean?' INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EARTH SCIENCES 105, (1) 399-415 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Maffione M, Thieulot C, van Hinsbergen DJJ, Morris A, Plumper O & Spakman W 2015 'Dynamics of intraoceanic subduction initiation: 1. Oceanic detachment fault inversion and the formation of supra-subduction zone ophiolites' GEOCHEMISTRY GEOPHYSICS GEOSYSTEMS 16, (6) 1753-1770 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Maffione M, Morris A, Plumper O & van Hinsbergen D 2014 'Magnetic properties of variably serpentinized peridotites and their implication for the evolution of oceanic core complexes' Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems , DOI PEARL
Ildefonse B, Abe N, Godard M, Morris A, Teagle DAH & Umino S 2014 'Formation and Evolution of Oceanic Lithosphere: New Insights on Crustal Structure and Igneous Geochemistry from ODP/IODP Sites 1256, U1309, and U1415' 449-505 , DOI
Expedition 345 Scientists (inc. A. Morris) 2014 'Hess Deep Plutonic Crust: Exploring the plutonic crust at a fast-spreading ridge: new drilling at Hess Deep' IODP Preliminary Reports 345, , DOI
Gillis KM, Snow JE, Klaus A, Abe N, Adriao AB, Akizawa N, Ceuleneer G, Cheadle MJ, Faak K 2013 'Primitive layered gabbros from fast-spreading lower oceanic crust' Nature 505, 204-207 , DOI PEARL
Maffione M, Morris A & Anderson MW 2013 'Recognizing detachment-mode seafloor spreading in the deep geological past' Scientific Reports 3, , DOI PEARL
Maffione M, Morris A & Anderson MW 2013 'Recognizing detachment-mode seafloor spreading in the deep geological past' Scientific Reports 3, , DOI
Ferrini VL, Shillington DJ, Gillis K, MacLeod CJ, Teagle DAH, Morris A, Cazenave PW, Hurst S, Tominaga M, et. al 2013 'Evidence of mass failure in the Hess Deep Rift from multi-resolutional bathymetry data' Marine Geology 339, 13-21
Pressling N, Morris A, John BE & MacLeod CJ 2012 'The internal structure of an oceanic core complex: An integrated analysis of oriented borehole imagery from IODP Hole U1309D (Atlantis Massif)' GEOCHEMISTRY GEOPHYSICS GEOSYSTEMS 13, Author Site , DOI
Teagle DAH, Ildefonse B, Blum P, Morris A & IODP Expedition 335 Scientific Party 2012 'Superfast Spreading Rate Crust 4: Drilling gabbro in intact oceanic crust formed at a superfast spreading rate' Proceedings of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program 335, , DOI
Blackman DK, Ildefonse B, John BE, Ohara Y, Miller DJ, Abe N, Abratis M, Andal ES, Andreani M 2011 'Drilling constraints on lithospheric accretion and evolution at Atlantis Massif, Mid-Atlantic Ridge 30°N' Journal of Geophysical Research 116, (B7) , DOI
MacLeod CJ, Carlut J, Escartín J, Horen H & Morris A 2011 'Quantitative constraint on footwall rotations at the 15°45′N oceanic core complex, Mid-Atlantic Ridge: Implications for oceanic detachment fault processes' Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 12, (5) n/a-n/a , DOI
Kinnaird TC, Robertson AHF & Morris A 2011 'Timing of uplift of the Troodos Massif (Cyprus) constrained by sedimentary and magnetic polarity evidence' JOURNAL OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 168, (2) 457-470 Author Site , DOI
Teagle DAH, Ildefonse B, Blum P, Morris A & IODP Expedition 335 Scientific Party 2011 'Battling through the thermal boundary layer: Deep sampling in ODP Hole 1256D during IODP Expedition 335' InterRidge News 20, 12-17
Teagle DAH, Ildefonse B, Blum P, Morris A & IODP Expedition 335 Scientific Party 2011 'IODP Expedition 335: Deep sampling in ODP Hole 1256D' Scientific Drilling 13, 28-34 , DOI
Harris M, Teagle DAH, Lissenberg J, Morris A & Expedition 335 Science Party 2011 'Superfast Spreading Rate 4' IODP UK Newsletter 36, 15-16
Expedition 335 Scientists 2011 'Superfast Spreading Rate Crust 4: Drilling gabbro in intact ocean crust formed at a superfast spreading rate' IODP Preliminary Reports 335, , DOI
Morris A, Gee JS, Pressling N, John BE, MacLeod CJ, Grimes CB & Searle RC 2009 'Footwall rotation in an oceanic core complex quantified using reoriented Integrated Ocean Drilling Program core samples' EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS 287, (1-2) 217-228 Author Site , DOI
Inwood J, Anderson MW, Morris A & Robertson AHF 2009 'Successive structural events in the Hatay ophiolite of southeast Turkey: Distinguishing oceanic, emplacement and post-emplacement phases of faulting' TECTONOPHYSICS 473, (1-2) 208-222 Author Site , DOI
Inwood J, Morris A, Anderson MW & Robertson AHF 2009 'Neotethyan intraoceanic microplate rotation and variations in spreading axis orientation: Palaeomagnetic evidence from the Hatay ophiolite (southern Turkey)' EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS 280, (1-4) 105-117 Author Site , DOI
John BE, Cheadle MJ, Gee J, Grimes CB, Morris A & Pressling N 2009 'Spatial and temporal evolution of slow spread oceanic crust - graphic sections of core recovered from IODP Hole U1309D, Atlantis Massif, 30N, MAR (including Pb/U zircon geochronology and magnetic remanence data' Proceedings of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results 304/305, , DOI
Ildefonse B, Blackman D, John BE, Ohara Y, Miller DJ, MacLeod CJ, Morris A & IODP Expeditions 304-305 Scientists 2007 'Oceanic core complexes and crustal accretion at slow-spreading ridges' Geology 35, 623-626 , DOI
Halfpenny A, Searle R, McCaig A, Morris A & Expedition 304/305 Shipboard Scientific Party 2006 'Expedition 305: Oceanic core complex 2' IODP UK Newsletter 31, 3-6
Ildefonse, B, Blackman, D, John, E B, Ohara, Y, Miller 2006 'IODP Expeditions 304 & 305 characterise the lithology, structure, and alteration of an oceanic core complex' Scientific Drilling 3, 4-11 , DOI
Blackman DK, Ildefonse B, John BE, Ohara Y, Miller DJ, MacLeod CJ, Morris A & Expedition 304/305 Scientists 2006 'Oceanic core complex formation, Atlantis Massif' Proceedings of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program 304/305, , DOI
Morris A, Anderson MW, Inwood J & Robertson AHF 2006 'Palaeomagnetic insights into the evolution of Neotethyan oceanic crust in the eastern Mediterranean' Geological Society of London Special Publications 260, 351-372
Ildefonse B & the IODP Expeditions 304 and 305 Scientists 2005 'IODP Expeditions 304 and 305: Oceanic Core Complex Formation, Atlantis Massif. Scientific Drilling' Scientific Drilling 1, 28-31 , DOI
Morris A, Anderson MW & Robertson AHF 2005 'Comment on: “Tectonics of the Akamas and Mamonia ophiolites, Western Cyprus: magnetic petrofabrics and paleomagnetism” by G.J. Borradaile and K. Lucas☆' Journal of Structural Geology 27, (1) 171-174 , DOI
Expedition Scientific Party (inc Morris A) 2005 'Oceanic core complex formation, Atlantis Massif, Mid-Atlantic Ridge: drilling into the footwall and hanging wall of a tectonic exposure of deep, young oceanic lithopshere to study deformation, alteration and melt generation' , DOI
Conference Papers
Henon DN, Matthews NM, O'Sullivan PE, Slater L, Williams TSC, Nicholson MJ & Morris A 1999 'Multi-proxy analysis of a late holocene sediment core from Swanpool, Falmouth, Cornwall' 318-324
Dick HJB, MacLeod CJ, Blum P & Expedition 360 Scientists 2016 Expedition 360 Preliminary Report. Southwest Indian Ridge Lower Crust and Moho: The nature of the lower crust and Moho at slower spreading ridges (SloMo Leg 1). International Ocean Discovery Program , DOI
MacLeod CJ, Teagle DAH, Gillis KM, Cazenave PW, Hansen HE, Harris M, Howard KA, Hurst SD, Ildefonse B, et. al 2008 Accretion of the lower oceanic crust at fast-spreading ridges: a rock drill and near-bottom seafloor survey in support of IODP drilling in Hess Deep. RRS James Cook JC21 Cruise Report
Williams C, Griffiths J, Morris A & Scott S 1999 Geological field teaching using discovery techniques. Science Education Enhancement and Development (SEED) Publications