University of Oxford

Key laboratory expertise

  • Dislocation density from high-resolution EBSD
  • Seismic anisotropy and textural evolution of olivine aggregates
  • Microstructural and rheological heterogeneity in natural peridotites
  • Viscous anisotropy of strongly textured rocks
  • Grain-boundary sliding in olivine
  • Deformation associated with oceanic detachment faults


Staff and Students

The work of the Rock Rheology Laboratory is supported by 2 members of full time academic staff. We currently host 4 PhD students and one postdoctoral fellow.

Alumni from the lab can be found in academia worldwide including UBC and Utrecht.

Rock Rheology Laboratory

The Rock Rheology Lab in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford uses laboratory-based experiments to learn about the manner in which rocks deform. We are interested in a wide range of problems that relate the mechanisms of deformation at the atomic scale to the dynamics of the solid Earth at the scale of lithospheric plates. Much of our research focuses on the interactions between microstructure and high-temperature deformation of mantle and crustal rocks. We also use field-based experiments to analyze the mechanics of past deformation events and to test extrapolations of laboratory-derived models.


High-temperature uniaxial creep apparatus in the Rock Rheology Lab: This is our primary apparatus for investigation of the mechanical properties of rocks. It was designed in collaboration with Physik Instrumente for high resolution mechanical tests, implementing both electromechanical and piezoelectric actuators. Maximum operation temperature is 1500°C with controlled chemical environments. Key behavioral targets are viscoelasticity, anelasticity, seismic attenuation, and viscous creep.
FEI Quanta 650 FEG-SEM: Department of Earth Sciences, outfitted with EDS, EBSD, and CL
Machining and sample prep: Diamond bit to core drilling, with focus on oriented olivine crystals.

Current Projects

Mechanical properties of grain boundaries;
Microstructural evolution during high-temperature creep;
Viscoelasticity of the upper mantle;
The rheology of multiphase rocks: Microphysics and implications for shear zone formation;

Please note that Prof. Hansen has now moved to the Rock and Mineral Physics Lab at the University of Minnesota… but you can still contact him here: