Waller on his mountain bike My interest in Physical Geography was originally stimulated by childhood hill walks in the mountainous areas of the U.K. and an associated curiosity as to how these spectacular landscapes had been created. Whilst studying Geography at Oxford, I had the opportunity to spend two months in Alaska, which graphically illustrated the power of ice and established an interest in cold environments that I have retained ever since. This led initially to a Ph.D. at Southampton on debris-rich basal ice and then a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Glaciology at Greenwich, before taking up a lecturing post at Keele in 2001. My interest in the great outdoors extends beyond my academic interests and in my free time I enjoy walking, running, mountain biking and landscape photography.

Research and scholarship

Massive ice in the western Canadian Arctic

My research interests encompass both modern and ancient glacial and periglacial environments. My doctoral research examined the influence of deformation on the formation and evolution of debris-rich basal ice, a sediment-laden layer of ice that commonly occurs at the base of glaciers and ice sheets. Collaborative work with Peter Knight has subsequently examined the geomorphological and sedimentological expression of basal ice sequences and considered the potential role played by glaciohydraulic supercooling, a newly advocated process of basal ice formation. My research interests have broadened to consider the influence of subglacial and ice-marginal processes on the behaviour and landscape impact of glaciers and ice sheets. A recently completed Ph.D. project that I supervised examined the origin and glacial significance of the Woore moraine, one of the largest glacial landforms in the U.K.

Intraclasts in north Norfolk

The primary focus of my current research involves an examination of the nature and glaciological influence of glacier-permafrost interactions. Whilst such cold-based glaciers resting on permafrost are typically regarded as slow moving and geomorphologically inactive, collaborative work in the western Canadian Arctic has demonstrated their ability to actively couple with and deform pre-existing permafrost over wide areas. Current work aims to identify diagnostic sedimentological evidence for glacier-permafrost interactions in areas such as the U.K. where the permafrost has subsequently thawed.

Four Ashes SSSI

I am also actively involved in geoconservation activities as a member of the GeoConservation Staffordshire group. These seek to promote the conservation, management and educational use of the county's geodiversity and in previous years have resulted in the publication of a series of Geotrail leaflets. Current work is focusing on the development of a series of site management plans for key sites including Four Ashes, the Devensian type site .

I am also a firm believer in widening public participation in science and regularly deliver talks and workshops to schools and local community groups. I also organise events at the annual British Science Festival which is one of the largest science communication events in Europe.

Further information:


Year 1

  • ESC-10035 : Geographical Skills
  • ESC-10038 : The Practice of Physical Geography
  • ESC-10039 : Fundamentals of Physical Geography
  • ESC-10041 : People and the Environment
  • GEG-10011 : Geography and Geographers (Module Leader)

Year 2

  • ESC-20004 : Advanced Systematic Geography (Module Leader)
  • ESC-20029 : Practical Physical Geography (Module Leader)
  • ESC-20030 : Regional Landsystems (Module Leader)
  • GEG-20009 : Geographical Research Training
  • GEG-20018: Concepts & Debates in Geography (Module Leader)

Year 3

  • ESC-30009 : Natural Hazards (Module Leader)
  • ESC-30018 : Global Environmental Change


PGT/PGR students

PGR Students

Current students

  • Ben Davenward. PhD Thesis title: Determining the extent and land systems context of buried ice within glacial environments.
  • Alice Witherick:  PhD Thesis title The influence of basal thermal regime on the characteristics of subglacial debris

Past students

  • Aidan Parkes: 2010. A multi-disciplinary study of the origin and glaciological significance of the Woore Moraine, Shropshire.  Unpublished PhD Thesis, Keele University
  • Simon Cook:  2006. The role of glaciohydraulic supercooling in the formation of stratified facies basal ice. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Keele University.Resulting papersPIPG ; QSR ; Boreas ; Geog. Ann

PGT students

  • Michael Bullock. 2017. The origin and palaeoglaciological significant of the Thorncliffe meltwater channel. Unpublished MSc Thesis, Keele University.
  • Emma Stockton, 2017. Influence of temperatures, grain size and salinity on the unfrozen water content of frozen soils. Unpublished MSc Thesis, Keele University.

School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
William Smith Building
Keele University