Prof Ernest Rutter

Professor, Emeritus Professor

Full contact details
View graph of relations



Most of my research has been concerned with the experimental deformation of rocks under simulated geological conditions, in order to help interpret natural processes (such as in mountain building) leading to the flow and fracture of rocks. Apart from the intrinsic scientific interest of rock deformation processes, the results of such studies also support large-scale geodynamic modelling of the evolution of the Earth's crust and mantle. Rock mechanics also underpins and the understanding of rock behaviour under engineering conditions, with implications for the stability of slopes, excavations and boreholes, and hence the exploitation of natural resources. At varous times over my research career I have worked on aspects of all of these things. In addition to laboratory based experimentation, through my primary training as a geologist, I have carried out researches in various areas of field-based geoscience, often being able to bring an experimentalist's approach to illuminate essentiallfield-geological problems. Awarded the Wollaston Fund of the Geological Society (1993), the Lyell Medal (1999) and the Neel medal of the European Geoscience Union (2011)/

Laboratory facilities

Since my PhD work, I have overseen the development of a substantial laboratory for experimental rock deformation, equipped with 9 mechanical testing machines of various different types, able to deform rocks at pressures up to 500 MPa, temperatures of 1200°C, and with controlled pore fluid pressures. These facilities are supported by the necessary additional equipment for sample fabrication and characterization before and after testing.  The laboratory has supported the PhD and MSc projects of respectively 33 and 29 students, most of whom have gone on to develop highly successful research or industrial careers.

Research Topics

Previously: studies of pressure solution as a deformation mechanism, plasticity and grain size sensitive flow in quartz and calcite rocks, flow of partially molten granitoids, fabrics of deformed rocks. Deformation-metamorphism interrelationships during rock deformation, deformation and dehydration of serpentinites and micaceous rocks. Physical properties of rocks, particularly the seisimc properties of lower crustal rocks and seismic and permeability properties of fault rocks. Field studies of the internal geometry of the Ivrea-Verbano zone, N. Italy.  Currently: field studies of the internal structure of the Carboneras fault zone, S. Spain, and acoustic properties of the fault rocks and their protoliths, deformation of porous sandstones; fracture, friction and permeability of gas shales.




BSc, ARSM, PhD, DIC (Imperial College London); C.Geol; Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Related information