School of Earth and Environment

Taija Torvela Dr Taija Torvela

Lecturer: Applied Structural Geology/Basin Analysis/Seismic Interpretation; Programme Manager: MSc Structural Geology with Geophysics

Telephone number: +44(0) 113 34 36620
Email address:
Room: 9.153


I finished my PhD in 2007 at Abo Akademi University, Finland, on the 4D evolution of a crustal-scale shear zone in a Precambrian basement. After my PhD, I worked for Posiva as a structural geologist. Posiva is the organisation which is responsible for the final deposition of spent nuclear fuel in Finland into a crystalline basement repository. In 2009, I went to University of Aberdeen for a two-year post-doctoral fellowship. There, I was involved in the development of the Virtual Seismic Atlas,, and research projects on structural interpretation of seismic data, mostly from the perspective of the behaviour of the crystalline basement in both extensional and compressional environments, but also worked on deep-water fold and thrust systems.

After Aberdeen, I was appointed lecturer in structural geology and 3D modelling at the University of Helsinki. In Helsinki, I continued with research projects related to deep orogenic processes, specifically synorogenic mid-crustal extension and orogenic collapse, and the usability of seismic reflection data in researching crustal structures. I also continued with basin-related research, investigating the structure and the evolution of a 1.9 Ga volcanosedimentary basin in southern Finland.

I moved to Leeds in the autumn of 2012. Here, I will continue to pursue my field- and lab-based research interests in basement processes and deformation, both in convergent (orogenic) and in basin (extensional) environments. I'm also interested how these processes affect ore mineralisations, and how we can utilise structural geology knowledge in minerals exploration. I am the leader of the MSc Structural Geology with Geophysics since autumn 2014.


PhD, Abo Akademi University, 2007

HEA Fellow, ref PR081532, 2015


Geological Society of London, Fellow

Geological Society of Finland, member

Research Interests

- Middle and lower crustal structures and processes during orogenesis, and especially behaviour and role of migmatites in accommodating large-scale strains

- Fold and thrust belts/orogenic wedges

- Behaviour of middle and lower crust during lithospheric stretching/basin formation

- Application of seismic data to the structural interpretation of the crystalline basement

- Investigating possibilitied to enhance basement seismic reflection data by using seismic attributes, to detect sub-kilometre-scale structures

- Integrating field work and seismic reflection interpretation

- Relationships between geological structures and ore mineralisations

- Interpretational uncertainty

Teaching Interests

3D structures, field mapping, geodynamics of the lithosphere, applied structural geology, seismic interpretation (2D and 3D)

Support duties

Programme leader of MSc Structural Geology with Geophysics

Project details

Project title

Structural and mechanical properties of and processes within the orogenic middle crust (PhD project; Amicia Lee)


Taija Torvela, Geoff Lloyd, Andrew Walker

Project outline

The overall aim of the project is to understand middle and lower (M/L) crustal structure and behaviour during orogenesis, and especially during lateral orogenic spreading as seen today in the Tibetan Plateau. Some of the important questions that address this are: i) how weak is the M/L crust overall and what is its rheological behaviour; ii) what are the structural patterns in the M/L crust associated with orogenic spreading; iii) how does partially molten material behave during deformation at a microstructural scale; iv) can e.g. seismic anisotropy be used to investigate M/L crust in situ; and v) what processes can be inferred from the observed structural geometries, crystallographic, seismic, and rheological properties, and how can they drive orogenic spreading. The PhD project addresses some of these questions by e.g. field work and laboratory (SEM/EBSD) analyses of exposed analogues to M/L orogenic (Tibetan) crust, in order to study structural patterns in the M/L crust, and to infer e.g. rheological properties through high-T crystallographic behaviour of partially molten rocks.


  • Jiménez-Bonilla A; Balanyá JC; Expósito I; Crespo-Blanc A; Torvela TM; Díaz-Azpiroz M; Barcos L (2016) Miocene deformation front propagation and strain partitioning within the fold-and-thrust belt of the Central Betics, Geocageta, 59, pp.23-26.
  • Torvela TM (2016) How (not) to recognize a mid-crustal channel from outcrop patterns, Geological Society of America, .
  • Kalliomäki H; Torvela TM; Moreau J; Kähkönen Y (2014) Relationships between basin architecture, basin closure, and occurrence of sulphide-bearing schists: an example from Tampere Schist Belt, Finland, Journal of the Geological Society, 171, pp.659-671. doi: 10.1144/jgs2013-122
  • Torvela T; Moreau J; Butler RWH; Korja A; Heikkinen P (2013) The mode of extension in the orogenic mid-crust revealed by seismic attribute analysis., G3: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems: an electronic journal of the earth sciences, .
  • Calvès G; Torvela T; Huuse M; Dinkleman MG (2012) New evidence for the origin of the Porcupine Median Volcanic Ridge: Early Cretaceous volcanism in the Porcupine Basin, Atlantic margin of Ireland, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 13, . doi: 10.1029/2011GC003852
  • Calves J; Torvela T; Huuse M; Dinkelmann M (2012) New evidence for Early Cretaceous volcanism in the Porcupine Basin, west of Ireland., G3: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 13, .
  • Torvela T; Bond CE (2011) Do experts use idealized structural models? Insights from a deepwater fold-thrust belt case study., Journal of Structural Geology, 33, pp.51-58.
  • Torvela T; Ehlers C (2010) From ductile to brittle deformation - the structural development of and strain distribution along a crustal-scale shear zone in SW Finland., International Journal of Earth Sciences, 99, pp.1133-1152.
  • Torvela T; Ehlers C (2010) Microstructural associated with the Sottunga-Jurmo shear zone and their implications to the 1.83-1.79 Ga tectonic development of SW Finland., Bulletin of the Geological Society of Finland, 82, pp.5-29.
  • Aaltonen I; Lahti M; Engström J; Mattila J; Paananen M; Paulamäki S; Gehör S; Kärki A; Ahokas T; Torvela TM; Front K (2010) Geological Model of the Olkiluoto Site, Version 2., .
  • Hellä P; Ikonen A; Mattila J; Torvela TM; Wikström L (2009) RSC-programme -Interim report. Approach and basis for RSC development, layout determining features and preliminary criteria for tunnel and deposition hole scale., .
  • Torvela T; Mänttäri I; Hermansson T (2008) Timing of deformation phases within the South Finland shear zone, SW Finland., Precambrian Research, 160, pp.277-298.
  • Torvela T; Annersten H (2005) PT-conditions of deformation within the Palaeoproterozoic South Finland shear zone: some geothermobarometric results., Bulletin of the Geological Society of Finland, 77, pp.151-164.
  • Jimenez-Bonilla A; Torvela TM; Balanyá JC; Expósito I; Díaz-Azpiroz M (Accepted) Changes in dip and frictional properties of the basal detachment controlling orogenic wedge propagation and frontal collapse: the External central Betics case, Tectonics, . doi: 10.1002/2016TC004196