Dr Tom Dijkstra


  • Reader in Engineering Geomorphology

Research and expertise

I am an engineering geomorphologist with more than 30 years of research experience focusing on geohazards. A major aspect of my research is on climate change effects on UK slopes, including transport infrastructure earthworks. Other UK-focused research topics include developing an architecture for transport infrastructure earthworks resilience in a context of climate change, integrating a water balance model approach into transport network performance, and research into engineered earthworks deterioration. From 2012, I spent five years at the British Geological Survey where I worked on collaborative projects addressing, among others, multi-temporal landslide inventory establishment in St Lucia, continental-scale landslide susceptibility modelling for Africa and developing a water balance model approach to underpin daily landslide hazard assessments as part of the Natural Hazard Partnership daily communications to stakeholders. 

A key aspect of my research focuses on the interactions between geohazards and communities and this has given me the opportunity to engage with inter-disciplinary research teams that focus on the needs of some of the most vulnerable groups in society in China, India, Nepal, Bhutan and the Caribbean. The focus on China is particularly strong – I have been working in Gansu for more than 30 years and I am a visiting professor at Lanzhou University. My research has led to substantial research grant income, editing special publications (QJEGH, Engineering Geology), effective and inclusive stakeholder engagement, 100+ publications, invited keynote lectures, academic exchange visits, and invited membership of and participation in the Joint International Technical Committee on Landslides (JTC1). 

Current research activity

  • Early warning of rainfall-triggered washout and debris slide earthwork failures (Network Rail)
  • Geohazards and communities in dynamic landscapes of southern Gansu Province, China (with Lanzhou University)
  • Micro-scale investigations of geotechnical properties and processes in Chinese loess (with Chang’an University)
  • Exploring responses to geohazards in a dynamic risk environment – the role of knowledge, culture and risk perception (with Lanzhou University, China)
  • Hydro-dynamic modelling of landslides affecting transport infrastructure in Rwanda (with University of Rwanda)
  • Geohazards in southern Bhutan (with College of science and Technology, Royal University of Bhutan)

Recently completed research projects 

  • ACHILLES: Assessment, costing and enhancement of long life, long linear assets (EPSRC Programme Grant) achilles-grant.org.uk
  • iSMART: Infrastructure Slopes: Sustainable Management and Resilience Assessment (EPSRC) http://www.ismartproject.org
  • FUTURENET: Future Resilient Transport Networks, part of the ARCC Adaption and Resilience to a Changing Climate programme (EPSRC)
  • FLASH: Fit-for-purpose high-resoLution risk Assessment and forecasting System for rainfall-induced Hazards in Bhutan (NERC)
  • Hydro-geohazards and sustainable urban growth RLWS UK-China (BC/Newton Fund, NSFC)
  • Safer Self-Recovery (British Academy)
  • Promoting Safer Building (GCRF)

Recent publications

  • Klaver, N.R., Dijkstra, T.A., Barkwith, A., Dashwood, C., De Jong, S.M. and van Beek, R.L., (2023). Mass movement hazard & global climate change: Physical-deterministic modelling study of the rest and be thankful pass, Scotland UK. Geomorphology, p.108979.
  • Xia, X., Jarsve, K. T., Dijkstra, T., Liang, Q., Meng, X. and Chen, G. (2023). “An integrated hydrodynamic model for runoff-generated debris flows with novel formulation of bed erosion and deposition”. Engineering Geology, 326. doi.org/10.1016/j.enggeo.2023.107310
  • Morsy, A.M., Helm, P.R., El-Hamalawi, A., Smith, A., Hughes, P.N., Stirling, R.A., Dijkstra, T.A., Dixon, N. and Glendinning, S., (2023). Development of a multiphase numerical modeling approach for hydromechanical behavior of clay embankments subject to weather-driven deterioration. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, 149(8), p.04023062.
  • Zhou, Y.Y., Yu, B., Fan, W., Dijkstra, T.A., Wei, Y.N. and Deng, L.S., (2023). 3D characterization of localized shear failure in loess subject to triaxial loading. Engineering Geology, 322, p.107174.
  • Loke, M.H., Wilkinson, P.B., Chambers, J.E., Uhlemann, S., Dijkstra, T. and Dahlin, T., 2022. The use of asymmetric time constraints in 4-D ERT inversion. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 197, p.104536.
  • Guo, F.J., Meng, X.M, Qi, T.J., Dijkstra, T.A., Jarsve, K.T., Yue, D.X., Chen, G., Zhang, Y., Dou, X.D. and Shi, P.Q. (2022). Rapid onset hazards; fault-controlled landslides and multi-method emergency decision-making. Journal of Mountain Science, 19(5), 1357-1369.
  • Briggs, K.M., Dijkstra, T.A. and Glendinning, S., 2022. Assessing the Deterioration of Ageing Infrastructure Earthworks. GeoStrata Magazine Archive, 26(4), pp.26-33.
  • Yu, B., Fan, W., Dijkstra, T.A., Wei, Y.N. and Deng, L.S., 2022. Pore structure evolution due to loess collapse: A comparative study using MIP and X-ray micro-CT. Geoderma, 424, p.115955.
  • Zhang, Y., Meng, X.M., Novellino, A., Dijkstra, T.A., Chen, G., Jordan, C., Li, Y.X., and Su, X.J., (2021). Characterization of pre-failure deformation and evolution of a large earthflow using InSAR monitoring and optical image interpretation. Landslides, 19(1), pp.35-50.
  • Meng, X.M., Qi, T.J., Zhao, Y., Dijkstra, T.A., Shi, W., Luo, Y.F., Wu, Y.Z., Su, X.J., Zhao, F.M., Ma, J.H., Zhang, Y., Chen, G., Yue, D.X., Zhang, M.S. (2021) The deformation of the Zhangjiazhuang high-speed railway tunnel: an analysis of causal mechanisms using geomorphological surveys and D-InSAR monitoring. Journal of Mountain Science 18(7). 1920-1926 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-020-6493-5
  • Goodall, S, Li, Y, Chmutina, K, Dijkstra, T, Meng, X and Jordan, C, (2021). Exploring disaster ontologies from Chinese and Western perspectives: commonalities and nuances . Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal.[DOI: 10.1108/DPM-03-2021-0108]
  • Qi, T., Zhao, Y., Meng, X., Chen, G. and Dijkstra, T., 2021. AI-based susceptibility analysis of shallow landslides induced by heavy rainfall in Tianshui, China. Remote Sensing, 13(9), p.1819. doi.org/10.3390/rs13091819
  • Qi, T., Meng, X., Qing, F., Zhao, Y., Shi, W., Chen, G., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., Yue, D., Su, X. Guo, F., Zeng R. and Dijkstra, T. (2021). Distribution and characteristics of large landslides in a fault zone: a case study of the NE Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Geomorphology, 379. doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2021.107592
  • Yu, B., Fan, B. Dijkstra, T.A., Wei, Y.N., Deng, L.S. (2021) Heterogeneous Evolution of pore structure during loess collapse: Insights from X-ray micro-computed tomography. Catena, 201, 105206, doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2021.105206
  • Li, Y., Meng, X.M., Guo, P., Dijkstra, T.A., Zhao, Y., Chen, G., and Yue, D.X. (2020). Constructing rainfall thresholds for debris flow initiation based on critical discharges and S-hydrographs. Engineering Geology, 280, 105962. doi.org/10.1016/j.enggeo.2020.105962
  • Yu, B., Fan, W., Fan, J.H., Dijkstra, T.A., Wei, Y.N. and Wei, T.T., (2020). X-ray micro-computed tomography (m-CT) for 3D characterisation of particle kinematics representing water-induced loess micro-fabric collapse. Engineering Geology, doi.org/10.1016/j.enggeo.2020.105895
  • Zhang, Y., Meng, X.M., Dijkstra, T.A., Jordan, C.J., Chen, G., Zeng, R.Q. and Novellino, A., (2020). Forecasting the magnitude of potential landslides based on InSAR techniques. Remote Sensing of Environment, 241, p.111738. doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2020.111738
  • Sargeant, S., Finlayson, A., Dijkstra, T., Flinn, B., Schofield, H., Morel, L.M., Twigg, J., Lovell, E., Stephenson, V. and Adhikari, B., (2020). The influence of the physical environment on self-recovery after disasters in Nepal and the Philippines. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 50, Nov 2020. doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101673
  • Hsein Juang, C., Dijkstra, T., Wasowski, J. and X.M. Meng (2019). Loess geohazards research in China: Advances and challenges for mega engineering projects. Engineering Geology, 251, 01-10  
  • Dixon, N., Crosby, C.J., Stirling, R., Hughes, P.N., Smethurst, J., Briggs, K., Hughes, D., Gunn, D., Hobbs, P., Loveridge, F., Glendinning, S., Dijkstra, T. and A. Hudson (2019). In situ measurements of near-surface hydraulic conductivity in engineered clay slopes. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 52, 123-135.
  • Gunn, D.A., Chambers, J.E., Dashwood, B.E., Lacinska, A., Dijkstra, T., Uhlemann, S., Swift, R., Kirkham, M., Milodowski, A., Wragg, J. and Donohue, S. (2018). Deterioration model and condition monitoring of aged railway embankment using non-invasive geophysics. Construction and Building Materials, 170, pp.668-678.
  • Tang, A.M., Hughes, P.N., Dijkstra, T.A., Askarinejad, A., Brenčič, M., Cui, Y.J., Diez, J.J., Firgi, T., Gajewska, B., Gentile, F., Grossi, G., Jommi, C., Kehagia, F., Koda, E., ter Maat, H.W, Lenart, S, Lourenco, S, Oliveira, M, Osinski, P, Springman, S.M., Stirling, R., Toll, D.G, and van Beek, V. (2018). Atmosphere–vegetation–soil interactions in a climate change context; impact of changing conditions on engineered transport infrastructure slopes in Europe. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, pp.qjegh2017-103.. 
  • Zhang, Y, Meng, X.M., Jordan, C., Novellino, A., Dijkstra, T., and Chen, G. (2018). Investigating slow-moving landslides in the Zhouqu region of China using InSAR time series. Landslides, DOI 10.1007/s10346-018-0954-8
  • Williams, J.G., Rosser, N.J., Kincey, M.E., Benjamin, J., Oven, K.J., Densmore, A.L., Milledge, D.G., Robinson, T.R., Jordan, C.A. and Dijkstra, T.A., (2018). Satellite-based emergency mapping using optical imagery: experience and reflections from the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 185-205, https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-185-2018, 2018.
  • Postance, B., Hillier, J., Dijkstra, T., and Dixon, N. (2017). Comparing threshold definition techniques for rainfall-induced landslides: A national assessment using rainfall radar. Earth Surf. Process. Landforms. 43(2), February 2018, Pages: 553–560. doi: 10.1002/esp.4202.
  • Peng, J., Qi, S., Williams, A. and Dijkstra, T.A., (2017).  Preface to the special issue on "Loess engineering properties and loess geohazards". Engineering Geology. [DOI: 10.1016/j.enggeo.2017.11.017]
  • Postance, B., Hillier, J., Dijkstra, T. and Dixon, N., (2017). Extending natural hazard impacts: an assessment of landslide disruptions on a national road transportation network. Environmental Research Letters, 12(1), p.014010. 11p.
  • Uhlemann, S., Chambers, J., Wilkinson, P., Maurer, H., Merritt, A., Meldrum, P., Kuras, O., Gunn, D., Smith, A. and Dijkstra, T., (2017). Four-dimensional imaging of moisture dynamics during landslide reactivation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 122,1, 398-418. DOI: 10.1002/ 2016JF003983.
  • Chen, Z., Meng, X., Yin, Y., Dijkstra, T., Winter, M. and Wasowski, J., (2016). Landslide Research in China. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 49(4), pp.279-285.
  • Uhlemann, S., Hagedorn, S., Dashwood, B., Maurer, H., Gunn, D., Dijkstra, T., Chambers, J. (2016). Landslide characterisation using P- and S-wave seismic refraction tomography – the importance of elastic moduli. Journal of Applied Geophysics,134, 64-76. 
  • Uhlemann, S., Smith, A., Chambers, J., Dixon, N., Dijkstra, T., Haslam, E., Meldrum, P, Merritt, A., Gunn, D. & Mackay, J. (2016). Assessment of ground-based monitoring techniques applied to landslide investigations. Geomorphology, 253, 438-451
  • Hughes, D., Karim, M.R., Briggs, K., Glendinning, S., Toll, D., Dijkstra, T., Powrie, W. and Dixon, N., (2015). A Comparison of numerical modelling techniques to predict the effect of climate on infrastructure slopes. Geotechnical Engineering for Infrastructure and Development. January 2015, 3663-3668.
  • Pennington, C, Freeborough, K, Dashwood, C, Dijkstra, T and Lawrie, K (2015). The National Landslide Database of Great Britain: Acquisition, communication and the role of social media. Geomorphology, 249, 44-51
  • Beetham, P, Dijkstra, TA, Dixon, N, Fleming, P, Hutchison, R and Bateman, J (2014). Lime stabilisation for earthworks. Ground Improvement. DOI: 10.1680/grim.13.00030
  • Dijkstra, T. A., Wasowski, J., Winter, M. G., & Meng, X. M. (2014). Introduction to geohazards of Central China. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 47(3), 195-199.
  • Gunn, D.A., Chambers, J.C., Uhlemann, S., Wilkinson, J.B., Meldrum, P.I., Dijkstra, T., Haslam, E., Kirkham, M., Wragg, J., Holyoake, S., Hughes, P.N. Hen-Jones, R. & Glendinning S. (2014). Moisture monitoring in clay embankments using electrical resistivity tomography. Construction and Building Materials, 92, pp.82-94
  • Zeng, R. Q., Meng, X. M., Wasowski, J., Dijkstra, T., Bovenga, F., Xue, Y. T., & Wang, S. Y. (2014). Ground instability detection using PS-InSAR in Lanzhou, China. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, Vol. 47, 2014, pp. 307–321
  • Dijkstra, T., Dixon, N., Crosby, C., Frost, M., Gunn, D., Fleming, P., & Wilks, J. (2014). Forecasting infrastructure resilience to climate change. Proceedings of the ICE-Transport, 167(5), 269-280.


I contribute to learning and teaching activities across the Schools programmes including:


  • Geotechnical engineering modules on civil engineering, architectural engineering, quantity surveying and construction management programmes
  • The engineering geology components of the residential field course
  • Supervision of dissertations on topics aligned to my research interests


  • Supervision of dissertations on topics aligned to my research interests



I worked in academia for more than 20 years before moving to work for the British Geological Survey in 2012 and have accumulated a broad experience with delivering and managing high-quality research on ‘landslides, climate change and infrastructure’ and ‘geohazards and society’ themes. I also have substantial experience teaching on a range of subjects including landslides in loess, disaster management, tropical landscapes and soils, geohazards and geotechnical engineering, and delivering distance learning modules on Environmental Assessment and Integrated Water Management. Since September 2017 I re-joined Loughborough University to pursue my research interests and incorporate these into the teaching of engineering geology/geomorphology. Project management skills and interactions with industry are demonstrated by my active roles in EPSRC-funded iSMART and FUTURENET projects and the ACHILLES Research Programme, the CLIFFS network and contributions to the EU COST action TU1202. 

I have a strong background in the communication of research into the mechanisms (including distribution and triggering thresholds of landslides) and impacts of geohazards and have used this to promote inter-disciplinary research projects such as the Safer Self-Recovery (British Academy-funded) and its pre-cursor Promoting Safer Building (GCRF-funded) projects. 

I have more than 100 publications and was lead-author on a paper on ‘Forecasting infrastructure resilience to climate change’ that was awarded the Rees Jeffreys Award (Journal Prize for best paper in ICE journal) in October 2015.

I am a visiting professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Lanzhou University, China, and a Fellow of the Geological Society of London.

Professional affiliations

  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London
  • Member, International Association of Engineering Geologists
  • Member, British Geotechnical Association


  • Awarded Institution of Civil Engineers’ Rees Jeffreys Award for ‘Best paper of 2014 published in Proceedings Institution of Civil Engineers Transport’

External activities

  • Editorial Board, Engineering Geology (2016 - present)
  • Editorial Board, Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment (2016 – present)
  • Editorial Board, Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology (2012 - 2018)
  • External Examiner, MSc in Geological and Enviroinmental Hazards, Portsmouth University (2016 – present)

Key collaborators

My research and enterprise activities are conducted with a range of academic and stakeholder partners, including the following examples:

  • Universities in the UK: Newcastle, Southampton, Durham, Leeds, Bath, Portsmouth
  • Universities elsewhere: University of Colorado in Boulder (USA), Lanzhou University (China), Chang’an University (China), Utrecht University (NL), Tribhuvan University (Nepal), Royal University of Bhutan
  • Government organisations: British Geological Survey, CNR-IRPI (Bari, Italy)
  • NGOs: Care International
  • Stakeholders: Network Rail, National Highways