Professor R. Paul Young

Over the past 25 years, Professor Young has pioneered many of the techniques used today in monitoring and interpreting induced seismicity in the mining, petroleum and nuclear waste disposal industries.  Through research groups at Queen's University, Canada, Keele University and Liverpool University, UK, as well as through spin off companies such as the Engineering Seismology Group, Canada and Applied Seismology Consultants, UK, fundamental scientific advances have been made in seismology and rock mechanics.

Prof. Paul Young was formerly vice-president research of university of Toronto from 2007 - 2014. Now Paul is the leader of a research group at the University of Toronto and also has an Honorary Research Professorship at the University of Liverpool.  Prof. Young has been President of the British Geophysical Association, and is an Honorary Adjunct Professor at Queen’s Universityin Kingston, Ontario, 

Prof. Young has taught in higher education establishments in the U.K. and Canada.  He has published more that 100 scientific papers in refereed journals, edited a book on Rockbursts and Seismicity in Mines, published over 50 other referred papers in conference proceedings, and is regularly invited to give keynote addresses.

Research Interest

Professor Young helped set up the new “Rock Physics and Computational Geomechanics Laboratory” within the Lassonde Institute for fundamental and applied research at the interface between seismology and rock mechanics.  The laboratory focuses on research into rock fracture dynamics, induced seismicity, earthquake and fault mechanics and rock damage.  The new Lassonde Institute aims to be an international center of excellence for interdisciplinary research and graduate training focused at the resource industries.  It draws on expertise from physics, applied mathematics, geology, geophysics, material science and engineering.  

Paul's personal research is focused on three broad areas: seismic source mechanics; seismic imaging; and rock physics; utilising data from nuclear waste management sites, mines, fluid injection and extraction sites, and natural earthquakes. The objectives of this applied seismological research are to improve the current understanding of fracture nucleation, coalescence and propagation processes due to mechanical, thermal and hydraulic loading, and provide techniques to monitor the volumetric extent of damage and rock failure. Rock fracture processes are operative at all scales in the Earth and are fundamental to natural tectonic processes within the Earth, as well as of prime significance to the strength and behaviour of rock as an engineering material. Paul is currently involved in projects to study rock fracture micromechanics and seismicity using a massively parallel supercomputer and new acoustic crack detection equipment that he has designed. This science will allow 3D micromechanical models of fracture processes to be validated.

Education and Experience

Education and Experience
  • 2007-2014: Vice President of Research, University of Toronto (starting November 1 2007).
  • 2004-2007: Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto
  • 2002-present: Keck Chair of Seismology and Rock Mechanics, University of Toronto (Canada)
  • 1999-2002: Chair of Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Liverpool University (UK)
  • 1995-1998: Keele University (U.K.), Head of Department of Earth Sciences
  • 1993-1999: Keele University (U.K.), Personal Chair, Professor of Applied Seismology and Rock Physics
  • 1989-1993: Queen's University (Canada), Professor, Engineering Seismology and Rock Physics
  • 1984-1989: Queen's University (Canada), Associate Professor, Engineering Seismology and Rock Physics
  • 1981: Ph.D., Applied Seismology, University of Sunderland
  • 1980-1984: University of Hull, Lecturer in Geophysics
  • 1976-1980: University of Sunderland, Lecturer in Geology and Geophysics
  • 1976: P.G.C.E., Teaching qualification, University of London 
  • 1975-1976: Newcastle Education Authority, Mathematics High School Teacher
  • 1974: M.Sc., Rock Mechanics, University of Newcastle
  • 1973: B.Sc. Hons., Geological Sciences, University of London

Recent Research Grants and contracts

Recent Research Grants and Contracts
  • 2004-2008 - $4,949,937 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT), Keck Foundation, MTS Systems Inc, and Dell Computer Inc., to build the Rock Fracture Dynamics Facility involving Experimental Rock Deformation and Geophysical Imaging for Validation of Coupled-process Numerical Modelling
  • 2003-2005 - $10,000 from the Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres (MAE) on the Experimental Study of Strain Localization in Upper Crustal Materials.
  • 2002-2006 - $324,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Operating Grant: “Rock fracture dynamics”.
  • 2001-2004 - 807,878 Euro from the European Community for "Seismic validation of 3-D thermo-mechanical models for the prediction of rock damage around spent fuel waste repositories"  Research partners are Itasca France, ASC, UK and SKB, Sweden
  • 2001-2004 - 812,683 Euro from the European Community for "Development of the Tools and Interpretation Techniques for Ultrasonic Surveys to Monitor the Rock Barrier around Radioactive Waste Packages" with ASC, UK, INERIS, France and ANDRA, France
  • 2001-2002 - £309,715 from NERC for a "Ultrasonic Giga-recorder for Seismic and Rock Fracture Mechanics Research" with ESG, Canada
  • 2001-2002 - £25,000 from Shell Research, Risjwisjk, Netherlands for "Micromechanical modelling of fluid-induced seismicity"
  • 2001-2002 - £20,250 from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), “Analysis and Interpretation of AE/MS data from the Pressurization Phase of the Tunnel Sealing Experiment"
  • 1999-2001 - £55,000 from Atomic Energy Canada for: “ Fundamental Investigations of Acoustic Emission and Ultrasonic Velocity as part of the Thermal-Mechanical Study at the Underground Research Laboratory.
  • 1999-2000 - £128,000 from EPSRC for: “Microseismic Monitoring of Waste Re-injection”. Linked to DTI grant to CSMA/ABB.
  • 1999-2000 - £324,000 from NERC for: “Networked Earth Sciences Supercomputing Cluster (NESSC) for mantle, ocean and rock mechanical studies”, with H. Davies and R. Williams.
  • 1999-2000 - £22,500 from NERC for: “Studies of Triggered Seismicity at an Underground Research Laboratory”, with C. Baker.
  • 1998-1999 - £22,250 from AECL, “AE/MS monitoring of the tunnel sealing experiment at the underground research laboratory"
  • 1997-1998 - £29,200 from INERIS, “High resolution ultrasonic velocity scans of excavation induced damage around the Mount Terri Tunnel”. (In collaboration with Dr S.C. Maxwell)
  • 1997-1998 - £65,550 from Phillips Petroleum, “Induced seismicity studies in the North Sea: design of a pilot study using permanently deployed borehole sensors"
  • 1997 - £42,748 from AECL, “AE/MS monitoring of excavation and thermally induced damage at the underground research laboratory: Instrumentation upgrades Phase 2"
  • 1997 - £12,600 from the Royal Society for “Attenuation Tomography”.
  • 1997-2000 - £225,000 from the European Union Inco-Copernicus Scheme for: “Determination of Earthquake Source Parameters in Geologically Complex Media”.  Research partners are Geophysics Institute of Prague and University of Hamburg.
  • 1997–1998 - £26,000 from NERC for: “Source Studies of Seismicity from Volcanic Areas Using a Time-dependent Moment Tensor Inversion Techniques”.
  • 1996-1998 - £400,000 from NERC LINK scheme for: “Induced Seismicity Characterization of Active Fractures for Validated Numerical Simulation of Hydrocarbon Reservoirs”.  Industrial Partners are Phillips Petroleum, Itasca and CSMA Associates.
  • 1996-1998 - £100,000 from Phillips Petroleum for: “Induced Seismicity Studies Ekofisk North Sea”.
  • 1993-1996 - £93,000 from NERC for: “Spatial and Temporal Studies of Seismicity using Time-Dependent Moment Tensor Inversion at an Underground Research Laboratory”.
  • 1993–1999 -  £50,000/year from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited for: “Acoustic Emission Studies at the Underground Research Laboratory, Manitoba, Canada”.
  • 1994-1995 - £30,000 from Nirex UK for: “Acoustic Emission Studies Relevant to the Proposed Sellafield Rock Characterization Facility”
  • 1994-1996 - £110,000 from a Radioactive Waste Management Consortium, including ANDRA (France), SKB (Sweden) and Nirex (UK) for: “Acoustic Emission Studies of Excavation Disturbance at the Aspo Hard Rock Laboratory, Sweden”.
  • 1994-1996 - £40,000 from the South African Mining Industry for: “Seismic Imaging Studies in Deep South African Gold Mines”.


My Research Group is located in the University of Toronto’s historic Mining Building, which is also home to the Lassonde Mineral Engineering Program and the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.

Professor R. Paul Young
Department of Civil Engineering
University of Toronto
Lassonde Institute and Department of Civil Engineering
Room MB108, 170 College Street,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3E3
Telephone: 416-978-5252
Fax: (416) 978-4820