The 2014 Louis Néel Medal is awarded to Ian Main for his sustained and exceptional contributions across a wide range of topics including earthquake scaling, hazard and fluid movements in hydrocarbons reservoirs.
Ian Main is Professor of Seismology and Rock Physics at the University of Edinburgh and is an internationally leading expert in both fields. His theoretical works on earthquake scaling and developments in damage mechanics to understanding rock failure have led him to the development of concepts of criticality in the Earth’s crust.
Using primarily analytical and numerical approaches, Main has published an extensive body of work in collaboration with laboratory experimentalists, and has developed and tested hypotheses for field-based observation of scaling of rock faults and fractures.
Main initially studied physics at St Andrews University entering the geosciences with his MSc in Durham before finally completing a PhD in seismology in Edinburgh. After being appointed Lecturer in Geophysics at the University of Reading, Main quickly started publishing influential papers on earthquake precursors, particularly focusing on the role of variations in magnitude-frequency statistics.
Over the years, Main and his students published many outstanding papers and several seminal views on the mechanics of earthquakes, on various aspects of statistical seismology and probabilistic hazard assessment. More recently, Main contributed new results in such diverse topics as phenomena and processes leading to volcanic eruptions and fluid transport in reservoir rocks.
In addition to being an international leader in seismology and rock physics and an excellent adviser to his students, Main has also provided significant service to the community in serving as journal editor, establishing and coordinating international research programmes and, over many years, encouraging collaborations between research groups in Europe on either an individual basis or in coordinated programmes. He is a worthy recipient of the Louis Néel Medal.