Category Archives: Uncategorised

COMET Internship Experience

Project Title: Improving Building Exposure Datasets using High-Res Imagery and Deep Learning 

Supervisors: Dr. Scott Watson and Dr. John Elliott (University of Leeds) 

Name of Intern student: Francesca (Frankie) Butler 

Bio: Final Year Undergraduate at the University of Aberdeen, reading Geology and Petroleum Geology, with a specific interest in pursuing a PhD in Volcanology, Magma Mixing.  

Following a life changing injury, I have had to look deeper at remote Geology, attend virtual field trips, GIS Mapping and most recently, the new frontier of Deep Learning in GIS.  

I am also interested in science communication, and I am part of the Geoscience academic community on Twitter – @frankiealoise I enjoy presenting ideas/research and documenting my journey as a disabled geologist, both in the field and the lab. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the COMET internship as it gave me the opportunity to learn new skills and speak at the annual student COMET meeting, combining PhD style research with Science communication and remote Geology/ Geoscience work! 


Project title: ‘Improving Building Exposure Datasets using High-res Imagery and Deep Learning’  

Testing the application of a variety of deep learning models to an area of Kathmandu and assessing transferability and improvements 

Independent 6-week summer research project, fully funded by NERC, COMET and the University of Leeds. 

Manually mapping buildings in Kathmandu, Nepal from high resolution satellite imagery. Using QGIS and ARCGIS to draw polygonal outlines around buildings.  

These manually collected outlines were then used to train Deep Learning Models to identify buildings with the end goal to create a pre-trained Deep Learning model for Kathmandu. Investigated the use of Non-Differentiated Vegetation Index (NDVI) masks to improve the accuracy assessment score and improve the overall accuracy of the model.  

These deep learning models are important for mapping building footprints quickly. Kathmandu currently has no established model and this will help to inform future planning and humanitarian response following natural disasters. 


Partially trained Deep Learning Models for Kathmandu.  

Accuracy Assessment Scores for Pre-trained deep learning models.  

Helped to define a direction for future research for my Supervisor Dr Scott Watson; the use of Non-Differentiated Vegetation Index (NDVI). 

15 Minute presentation at the NERC COMET student meeting in person in Manchester (January 15th 2023) 

The overall experience: 

I thoroughly enjoyed the NERC summer internship programme.  

I learnt so much about the process and approach you must have to research projects. 

I felt I was learning and contributing to research at the forefront of the field. 

Deep Learning programmes are becoming more prevalent within Geoscience, the work I did with Scott has helped me throughout my current Geology degree. I have attended PhD and Post-Doc talks on Deep Learning, and I understood their approach and felt I could ask relevant questions. 

Scott was an excellent supervisor, I had enough free reign to investigate areas I felt 

needed investigating, but I also had enough guidance. I felt I could ask any questions without fear of retribution. 

I learnt how to use some incredibly useful programmes that I am integrating into my own research. 

It was interesting as the project was within an area of geoscience that I am not wholly comfortable with- coding and new programmes. But the process of learning how to use them, making mistakes and learning how to rectify them, was really important for my overall development as a scientist. 

This project has helped to solidify that I would like to pursue a PhD in Geology. 

I completed this project whilst recovering from a serious life-changing injury. The understanding and compassion from all staff members allowed me to complete the work to a high standard whilst not jeopardising my recovery.  

I truly enjoyed the experience, thank you to Leeds and NERC for this experience! 

Tim Craig: Bullerwell Lecturer 2022

The BGA is delighted to announce that Dr Tim Craig from University of Leeds, is the Bullerwell Lecturer for 2022. The main focus of his research is the relation between intraplate earthquakes and tectonics. Tim completed his PhD in 2013 on the topic Constraining Lithosphere Rheology using Earthquake Seismology at Bullard Laboratories in University of Cambridge; this was followed by a PDRA position in pRais, before moving to Leeds in 2015.

Bullerwell Lecturer 2022 | The British Geophysical Association (

Congratulations Tim from all your colleagues at COMET!

Professor Tamsin Mather and Professor Marie Edmonds receive the honorary title of Geochemistry Fellow

Professor Tamsin Mather (left) and Professor Marie Edmonds (right)

COMET scientists Professor Tamsin Mather (University of Oxford) and Professor Marie Edmonds (University of Cambridge) have both received the honorary title of Geochemistry Fellow from the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry, in recognition of their broad spectrum of scientific achievements that have advanced geochemistry.

In total sixteen geochemists were recognised this year. The award was established in 1996 to honour outstanding scientists who have, over the years, made a major contribution to the field. The awards will be presented at the society’s Goldschmidt Conference this summer.

COMET would like to congratulate Professor Mather and Professor Edmonds on receiving the honorary title of Geochemistry Fellow!

Further info can be found at: Geochemistry Fellows | European Association of Geochemistry (

PhD Webinars

Thinking of applying for a PhD?

Watch again a webinar, supported by COMET, where SENSE CDT and their panelists discuss how to apply for PhDs:

Are you thinking of doing a PhD? Not sure what the benefits might be to you or your career?

Join us and our wonderful panelists to hear about their experiences doing a PhD and how they feel it helped them, the skills that they gained, and how it got them into the exciting jobs they do today. The panelists PhDs were all in environmental science and many specialised in using satellite data – Earth Observation.


Tim Craig Winner of the 2022 EGU Geodynamics Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) has named the 50 recipients of next year’s Union Medals and Awards, Division Medals, and Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Awards.

We are delighted to announce, COMET scientist Dr Tim Craig based at the University of Leeds has been named as next year’s winner of the 2022 Geodynamics Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award.

These individuals are honoured for their important contributions to the Earth, planetary and space sciences.

The winners will be celebrated at next year’s EGU General Assembly 2022, which will be held from 3–8 April.

Congratulations Tim from all of your COMET colleagues.

The Global Waveform Catalogue

The Global Waveform Catalogue hosted by COMET is now fully interactive.

The Global Waveform Catalogue was published by COMET Associate Dr Sam Wimpenny (University of Cambridge) at the links below.




This is the central repository for the Global Waveform Catalogue (gWFM) v1.0, which is a database of point-source fault-plane solutions and focal depths for moderate-magnitude earthquakes that have been modelled by an analyst using synthetic seismograms. Most earthquakes have been modelled using the program MT5 [see McCaffrey et al., 1991, McCaffrey and Abers 1988], which is described in detail by Molnar and Lyon-Caen 1989 and Taymaz et al., 1990. A number of smaller earthquakes (Mw < 5.3) have also been studied by modelling the P, pP and sP phases on vertical-component short-period or broadband seismograms [e.g. Maggi et al., 2000].

Most of the earthquakes in this database come from the literature, with some solutions from theses that are available online.

The database is complimentary to other global catalogues of earthquakes, such as the global centroid moment tensor (gCMT) catalogue and the ISC-EHB bulletin. What this catalogue brings to the table are the well-constrained focal depths of moderate-magnitude earthquakes. A short manuscript describing origins of the gWFM and how it compares to the gCMT and ISC-EHB is currently in preparation.


Marie Edmonds receives the 2020 AGU Joanne Simpson Medal for Mid-Career Scientists

COMET scientist Prof Marie Edmonds based at the University of Cambridge has received the AGU 2020 Joanne Simpson Medal, one of the highest honours bestowed by AGU for her excellence in scientific research, education, communication, and outreach.  In this unprecedented year the award recognises those who have pushed the frontiers of science forward despite our professional and personal lives being turned upside down.

AGU will host an online celebration to formally recognise Marie’s achievement during #AGU20 Fall meeting on Wednesday 9 December 2020 at 15:00 PT/ 18:00 ET/ 22:00 UTC.

Congratulations Marie from all of your COMET colleagues.



John Elliott receives 2020 AGU John Wahr Early Career award

COMET scientist Dr John Elliott based at the University of Leeds is the latest winner of the John Wahr Early Career award from the AGU Geodesy section.

The John Wahr Early Career Award, formerly the Geodesy Section Award, is presented annually and recognizes significant advances in geodetic science, technology, applications, observations, or theory. The award is given to early or mid-career scientists who demonstrate the potential to be elected AGU Fellows in the future through outstanding contributions to geodesy.

The award will be presented to John at this year’s virtual AGU Fall Meeting in December 2020.  Congratulations John from all of your COMET colleagues.

Free Public Lecture, 25th September – Monitoring our hazardous planet from space

COMET Director Professor Tim Wright  will present a free public lecture, ‘Monitoring our hazardous planet from space’, as part of the Royal Astronomical Society’s Bicentenary celebrations

Fri, 25 September 2020
13:00 – 14:00 BST

Register to attend here

This lecture is part of the free and open to the public lecture series for the Royal Astronomical Society’s bicentenary celebrations and will take place online.

In the last twenty years, earthquakes have caused the deaths of nearly 1 million people and volcanic activity has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being evacuated from their homes. These events also cause major economic disruption, with aftereffects ranging from the destruction of buildings and infrastructure to airspace closures. Scientists in COMET* are at the forefront of international efforts to monitor our hazardous planet using satellites. COMET scientists are now providing critical information to decision makers around the world so that they can prepare for and quickly respond to earthquakes and eruptions. In this lecture, I will show how satellites are used to monitor tiny ground movements with extraordinary accuracy and explain how understanding these movements can help us forecast where future earthquakes will occur and when volcanoes might erupt.

*COMET is the UK Natural Environment Research Council’s Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics.

Main Event image: A building that collapsed during the January 2020 Turkey earthquake, which occurred in one of the high strain zones. Photo courtesy Roger Bilham, University of Colorado.

About the speaker:

Tim Wright is Professor of Satellite Geodesy at the University of Leeds and Director of COMET. His work has been at the forefront of developing the use of satellite radar for measuring tectonic and volcanic deformation. He was the first to measure the slow accumulation of tectonic strain around active faults with satellite radar, and he is currently leading a major project using the latest satellites to map how all the continents are deforming. In 2018 he co-founded a spinout company, Satsense Ltd, which is monitoring ground movement in the UK at high resolution. Tim has received several awards for his work including the 2014 Geodesy Section Award from the American Geophysical Union, the 2015 Bullerwell Lectureship from the British Geophysical Association, and the 2017 Harold Jeffreys Lectureship from the Royal Astronomical Society. In 2018, COMET was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Group Achievement award in Geophysics.

Join our next COMET Webinar (Episode 9)

Thursday the 30th of July 2020 at 16:00 UK time (GMT+1).
Prof. Richard Walker (University of Oxford)
Title: Earthquakes of the Silk Road – reinterpreting the historic and prehistoric ruptures of central Asia
If you want to attend the webinar please register at 
(After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information on how to join the webinar)