Sigurjón Jónsson

Principal Investigator

Professor of Geophysics


Research Interests

In my research I use satellite geodesy to study areas threatened by major earthquakes or volcanic activity.  Geophysical processes taking place at several kilometers below the earth’s surface, such as earthquake fault slip or magma accumulation, result in deformation of the surface that can be measured using geodetic methods.  I use results of such measurements, along with geophysical modeling, to find out what is going on at depth.  I primarily use satellite radar interferometry (InSAR) to detect and map the ground deformation.  With this technique I have studied a variety of geophysical phenomena related to the earthquake cycle, volcanic processes, landslides, as well as reservoir pressure changes.

Selected Publications

  • Ruch, J., T. Wang, W. Xu, M. Hensch and S. Jónsson, Oblique rift opening revealed by reoccurring magma injection in cental Iceland, Nature Comm. 7:12352, doi: 10.1038/ncomms12352, 2016.
  • Xu, W., J. Ruch & S. Jónsson, Birth of two volcanic islands in the southern Red Sea, Nature Communications, 6:7104, doi: 10.1038/ncomms8104, 2015.
  • Jónsson, S., Tensile rock mass strength estimated using InSAR, Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L21305, doi:10.1029/2012GL053309, 2012.
  • Calais, E., A. Freed, G. Mattioli, F. Amelung, S. Jónsson, P. Jansma, S.-H. Hong, T. Dixon, C. Prépetit, R. Momplaisir, Transpressional rupture of an unmapped fault during the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Nature Geoscience, 3, 794-799, 2010.
  • Pallister, J.S., W.A. McCausland, S. Jónsson, Z. Lu, H.M. Zahran, S.El-Hadidy, A. Aburukbah, I.C.F. Stewart, P.R. Lundgren, R.A. White, and M.R.H. Moufti, Broad accommodation of rift-related extension recorded by dyke intrusion in Saudi Arabia, Nature Geoscience, 3, 705-712, 2010.
  • Jónsson, S., Multi-year postseismic ground movements in south Iceland dominated by viscous relaxation, Nature Geoscience, 1, 136-139, doi:10.1038/ngeo105, 2008.
  • Jónsson, S., P. Segall, R. Pedersen, and G. Björnsson, Post-earthquake ground movements correlated to pore-pressure transients, Nature, 424, 179-183, 2003.
  • Amelung, F., S. Jónsson, H. Zebker, and P. Segall, Widespread uplift and trapdoor faulting on Galápagos volcanoes observed with radar interferometry, Nature, 407, 993-996, 2000.​


  • Ph.D. Geophysics, Stanford University, USA, 2002M.S.
  • Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, USA, 2002
  • M.S. Geophysics, University of Iceland, 1996
  • B.S. Geophysics, University of Iceland, 1994

Professional Profile

  • 2016-                Professor of Earth Science and Engineering, KAUST
  • 2009-16         Associate Professor of Geophysics, KAUST
  • 2004-09            Senior Researcher and Lecturer, Inst. of Geophysics, ETH Zurich
  • 2002-03            Reginald A. Daly Post-doctoral Fellow, Harvard University

Scientific and Professional Membership

​American Geophysical Union (AGU)
European Geoscience Union (EGU)
Icelandic Glaciological Society