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Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences+44 (0) 191 33 42293


Career Research Interests

My research involves the application of fluid dynamics applied to the Earth on a variety of length and time scales:

  • Starting at Earth's earliest history, I am interested in the evolution and dynamics of plate tectonics through time, which led to an ERC starting grant 2012-2017 on 'Modelling the Archaean Subduction Environment' (MASE). 
  • Related to this is the growth and destruction of cratonic lithosphere, which I have worked for a number of years now.
  • I have also worked extensively on subduction dynamics, from shallow flat subduction (my PhD work back in the '90s) to continental collision and slab break-off.
  • Another research interest is on the interaction between mantle and lithosphere, which results in small-scale convection, edge-driven convection, and intraplate volcanism.
  • On a smaller scale, I am interested in sustainable, renewable, or clean energy solutions. Work on this includes Carbon Capture and Storage, and, since recently, modelling of geothermal heat extracted from abandoned, flooded mines, something we have plenty of here in the Northeast of England. 

2017 – present  — Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University
2013 – present  — Reader, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University
2011 – 2013 — Senior Lecturer, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University
2006 – 2011 — Lecturer, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University
2004 – 2006 — Oberassistent, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
2002 – 2004 — Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA
2001 — PhD, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
1996 — MSc, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Research Interests

  • Subduction dynamics
  • Dynamics of the early Earth
  • Sub-lithospheric small-scale convection
  • Plumes and intraplate volcanism
  • Interaction between tectonics and paleo-climate
  • Mine Geothermal energy
  • Carbon Capture and Storage
Committee and Society Service
  • 2021 – 2025 — President of EGU Geodynamics division
  • 2023 – present — Chief Specialty Editor of Frontiers in Earth Sciences, Solid Earth Geophysics
  • 2017 – 2021 — Deputy president of EGU Geodynamics division
  • 2012 – present — Research Council Member of NERC Peer Review College.
  • 2014 – present — Associate Editor of 'Tectonics'
  • 2010 – 2016 — Associate Editor of 'Solid Earth'
  • 2010 – 2013 — EGU programme committee for geodynamics division.
Recent and Current Grants
  • 2023 --- 'EarthSafe’, Horizon Europe Doctoral Network on ‘Unveiling Earth’s Critical Resources for Clean Energy and a Sustainable Future’, March, funded through the UKRI guarantee scheme, £521,352, entire consortium: €2,097,900, PI=JC Afonso (Twente Univ), Durham PI=van Hunen.
  • 2023 --- 'GEMSToolbox-PRO’, EPSRC Impact Accellerator Award, £38,080, May 2023, PI=van Hunen.  
  • 2022 --- 'The Virgin Islands: Petrogenesis of early Earth-like Rocks’, NERC Pushing the Frontiers, £800,000, including £277,299 to Durham University, July 2022. Overall PI=Hastie (Edinburgh), Durham PI=van Hunen.
  • 2022 --- 'Heating homes using mine water’ workshop funded through the NERC Discipline-hopping funds, £5,236, PI=van Hunen.
  • 2022 --- 'Building a Display Interface for Geothermal Energy from Mines (DIG’EM)’, Durham Institute for Data Sciences (IDAS) summer internship proposal, PI=van Hunen, £2,050.
  • 2022 --- 'Mine Energy Thermal Interaction Tool proposal’, funder=The Coal Authority, £39,128, January 2022. PI=van Hunen, co-I=Gluyas.
  • 2021 --- 'Geothermal Energy and Solar-geothermal heat (GEMS)’, EPSRC/NERC Decarbonising Heating and Cooling scheme grant£1.4M
  • 2020 --- Royal Society award ‘Understanding craton stability using geodynamical and geochemical tools’, £8k.
  • 2016 — 'NNESMO', NERC Advanced Training grant on numerical modelling, £32k
  • 2015 — 'Subitop', as participant of an EU Horizon2020 ITN, PI: GFZ, Potsdam, Germany, €3.9M; Durham component: €273k.
  • 2015 — 'NNESMO', NERC Advanced Training grant on numerical modelling, £30k
  • 2014 — 'The Feedback Between Volatiles and Mantle Dynamics', NERC, £341k
  • 2014 — 'NNESMO', NERC Advanced Training grant on numerical modelling, £34k
  • 2012 — ‘What drives and resists plate sinking through the transition zone’, NERC, ~£366,000, with co-I Dr. Goes (Imperial College London).
  • 2011 — ‘Modelling the Archean Subduction Environment (MASE)’, ERC Starting Grant, €1.5M
  • 2010 — ‘TOPOMOD’, as participant of an EU FP7 International Training Network, PI: Univ. Roma Tre, Rome, Italy, €3.8M; Durham component: ~€473k.
  • 2010: — ‘The dynamics of continental collision and slab break-off’, Charles Waites PhD studentship, 3yrs,
  • 2010Orogenic Plateau Magmatism – NERC Standard Grant. NE/H021620/1 - Co-I. 
  • 2009 — ‘Timescales, mechanisms and/or numerical tools for CO2 dissolution in brine’, ONE North East and GRL, UK, 3 yrs FTE PhD project of Francesca Watson.
  • 2008 — ‘Multigrid Improvements’, NERC/EPSRC/NAG Ltd. UK, 12 months, Distributed Computational Science and Engineering (dCSE) support for software development. 


Book review

Chapter in book

Doctoral Thesis

Journal Article

Supervision students