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Personal profile

Personal profile

I have an MSc degree in earth sciences from Utrecht University (1998) and a PhD in geophysics from the ETH Zurich, Switzerland (2003). In the past, I worked at the Dutch Seismological Institute (KNMI) and the Dutch geological survey (NITG-TNO). I started in 2003 ITC's department of Earth Systems Analysis. I'm now head of the department of Earth Systems Analysis (ITC-ESA) and professor in Geophysics with a focus on imaging of Earth structure, composition, and dynamics through better understanding on the use of earth observation data. In particular, the focus is on the structure and deformation of the earth due to natural processes and the added value of satellite borne geophysical sensors in it.


Research interests

My work is focussing on the theme of the Earth as a dynamic system, where processes inside the Earth, and the interaction of these dynamic processes with the Earth structure, are of great importance for exploration, and all hazards that relate to dynamic subsurface processes. 

My research contributes to an improved understanding of the relation between Earth structure, composition, and dynamics, with a focus on quantifying the effect and impact of deformation due to natural processes. There is a strong focus on process oriented spatial modelling for both fundamental and problem-oriented research. The use of earth observation data, and in particular the added value of satellite borne geophysical sensors and their uniform spatial coverage, makes my research different from most others in this field. 

Imaging the Earth structure and composition in relation to large-scale dynamic processes is based on unravelling complex relationships. These relationships are often non-unique, do occur outside our direct reach, and there are only limited tools available that provide consistent information on the different scales of these processes. Traditional seismic methods provide only point constraints underneath seismic stations or information for the path in between stations. The resolution depends on the density of seismic stations, which is low for many parts of the world, in particular for most of ITC's client countries. In the last decade, large progress has been made in providing the scientific community with satellite borne geophysical systems measuring the earth’s gravity, magnetic and electromagnetic field. The field of satellite geophysics is therefore rapidly expanding, as it provides increased spatial and spectral resolution with an improved global coverage. An additional benefit, for researchers in general but for ITC’s client countries specifically, is that the data is free and available for everybody. Integrating satellite geophysics with traditional methods will deliver improved models of Earth structure and composition. Its societal impact can be found in the exploration for new resources and alternative energy, like geothermal.

Earth deformation studies will give information on earthquake hazards, structural control on surface deforming processes, and provide insight into the controlling deep Earth turbulent phenomena, such as mantle plumes and large-scale geodynamics. Information on these processes can be best obtained using various geophysical, geodetic and Earth observation data sources in combination with physical modelling techniques (e.g. spectral finite element modelling).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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