Joël Ruch

Assistant Professor

Office 604A


My Research

I am deeply interested in the interaction between volcanism, faulting and tectonics. These so called volcano-tectonic processes are responsible for shaping volcanoes and rift zones worldwide, controlling the propagation of magma through fracture zones up to the Earth's surface. These processes are also associated with recurrent volcanic activity over decades and centuries, involving both tectonic and magmatic timescales. Understanding these processes are critical to estimate when and where a volcano will erupt. A key point of my research is to integrate short and long-term volcano deformation processes using different techniques, such as satellite imagery, structural geology, drone mapping and analogue modeling. I am leading the Volcano Tectonic Laboratory group and develop projects with two PhD students in Hawaii and in Iceland.


Ongoing Projects

  • TEMPO project “Revealing volcano-tectonic processes by integrating multi-spatial and temporal deformation analysis”. Professorship and project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), starting in July 2018.
  • Southern Red Sea project studying the relation between seismic activity and rifting processes in shaping divergent plate boundaries in the Southern Red Sea, Afar and Gulf of Aden (SAGA) region. Collaboration with the KAUST University.
  • Structural processes of caldera collapse and relation between surface deformation and magmatic source activity using analogue experiment. Collaboration with the KAUST University.




Liu, YK., J. Ruch, H. Vasyura-Bathke, S. Jónsson. Influence of ring faulting in localizing surface deformation at subsiding calderas, Earth and Planetary Science Letters,, 2019.


Trippanera, D. J. Ruch, L. Passone, S. Jónsson. Structural mapping of dike-induced faulting in Harrat Lunayyir (Saudi Arabia) by using high-resolution drone imagery. Frontiers in Earth Sciences, doi: 10.3389/feart.2019.00168, 2019.


Eyles JHW., Illsley-Kemp F., Keir D., Ruch J. and Jónsson S. Seismicity associated with the formation of a new Island in the Southern Red Sea. Front. Earth Sci. 6:141. doi: 10.3389/feart.2018.00141, 2018.


Trippanera, D., Ruch, J., Acocella, V., Thordarsson, T. Interaction between central volcanoes and regional tectonics along divergent plate boundaries: Askja, Iceland, Bulletin of Volcanology 80 (1), doi 10.1007/s00445-017-1179-8, 2017.


Nobile, A., V. Acocella, J. Ruch, Y. Aoki, S. Borgstrom, V. Siniscalchi, N. Geshi. Steady subsidence of a repeatedly erupting caldera through InSAR observations: Aso, Japan. doi 10.1007/s00445-017-1112-1, 2017.


Ruch, J., T. Wang, W. Xu, M. Hensch, S. Jónsson.  Oblique rift opening revealed by reoccurring magma injection in central Iceland, Nature Communications, 7, doi:10.1038/ncomms12352, 2016.


Ruch, J., L. Vezzoli, R. De Rosa, V. Acocella, R. Di Lorenzo. Magmatic control along a strike-slip volcanic arc: the central Aeolian arc (Italy). Tectonics, 35, doi:10.1002/2015TC004060, 2016.


Xu, W., S. Jónsson, J. Ruch, Y. Aoki. The 2015 Wolf volcano (Galápagos) eruption studied using Sentinel-1 and ALOS-2 data, Geoph. Res. Letters, doi: 10.1002/2016GL069820, 2016.


Xu, W., J. Ruch, S. Jónsson. Birth of two volcanic islands in the southern Red Sea. Nature Communications, 6, doi:10.1038/ncomms8104, 2015.


Trippanera D., J. Ruch, V. Acocella, E. Rivalta. Experiments of dike-induced deformation: an application to divergent plate boundaries, J. Geophys. Res., 20, 6913–6942, doi: 10.1002/2014JB011850, 2015.


Trippanera D., V. Acocella, J. Ruch, B. Abebe. Surface deformation along the divergent plate boundaries of Iceland and Ethiopia: understanding magmatic vs. tectonic processes, Tectonics, 34, 2318–2348, doi: 10.1002/2015TC003991, 2015.


Trippanera, D., V. Acocella, J. Ruch. Dike-induced contraction along oceanic and continental divergent plate boundaries, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 2014.


Le Corvec, N., T.R. Walter, J. Ruch, G. Puglisi, A. Bonforte. Stabilization and destabilization of the Mount Etna east flank associated with the 2001 episode, J. Geophys. Res., 119(7), 5356-5368, 2014.


Geshi, N., J. Ruch, V. Acocella. Threshold of the volume of erupted magma for caldera collapse, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 396, 107–115, 2014.


Trippanera, D., M. Porreca, J. Ruch, A. Pimentel, V. Acocella, J. Pacheco, M. Salvatore, Relationships between tectonics and magmatism on Faial Island (Azores, Portugal), GSA Bulletin, 126, 164-181, 2014.


Ruch, J., S. Pepe, G. Solaro, A. Pepe, V. Acocella, M. Neri, E. Sansosti. Seismo-tectonic behaviour of the Pernicana Fault System: a gauge to understand flank instability at Etna? J. Geophys. Res., 118, 4398-4408, 2013.


Ritter, M.C., V. Acocella, J. Ruch, S.L. Philipp. Evaluating a threshold for magma transfer in the layered upper crust: insights from experimental models, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 6043–6047, 2013.


Neri, M., G. Le Cozannet, P. Thierry, C. Bignami, J. Ruch. A method for multi-hazard mapping in poorly known volcanic areas: an example from Kanlaon (Philippines), Natural Hazard, 13, 1929-1943, 2013.


Bignami, C., J. Ruch, M. Chini, M. Neri, F. Buongiorno. Pyroclastic density current volume estimation after the 2010 Merapi volcano eruption revealed by Synthetic Aperture Radar, J. of Volcanol. and Geoth. Res., Special Issue, 261, 236-243, 2013.


Ruch, J., V. Acocella, N. Geshi, A. Nobile, F. Corbi.Kinematic analysis of caldera collapse using analogue model time series, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B07301, 2012.


Ruch, J., S. Pepe, F. Casu, V. Acocella, M. Neri, G. Solaro, E. Sansosti. How do volcanic rift zones relate to flank instability? Evidence from a collapsing rift at Etna. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, 20, 2012.


Nobile, A., C. Pagli, D. Keir, T.J. Wright, A. Ayele, J. Ruch, V. Acocella. Dyke-fault interaction during the 2004 Dallol instrusion at the northern edge of the Erta Ale ridge (Afar, Ethiopia), Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, 19, 2012.


Ruch, J., J.K., Warren, F. Risacher, T. Walter, R. Lanari. Salt lake deformation detected from space, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 331-332, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2012.03.009, 2012.


Geshi, N., V. Acocella, J. Ruch. From structure to gravity-controlled subsiding calderas: evidence, thresholds and mechanics, Bull. Volc., 74; 1553-1567, 2012.


Siniscalchi, A., S. Tripaldi, M. Neri, M. Balasco, G. Romano, J. Ruch, D. Schiavone. Flank instability structure of Mt Etna inferred by a magnetotelluric survey, J. Geophys. Res., 117, 2012.


Ruch, J. and T.R. Walter. Relationship between the InSAR-measured uplift, the structural framework, and the present-day stress field at Lazufre volcanic area, central Andes, Tectonophysics, 492, 2012.


Ruch, J., V. Acocella, F. Storti, M. Neri, S. Pepe, G. Solaro and E. Sansosti. Detachment depth revealed by rollover deformation: An integrated approach at Mount Etna, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L16304, 2010.


Solaro, G., V. Acocella, S. Pepe, J. Ruch, M. Neri, E. Sansosti. Anatomy of an unstable volcano through InSAR observations from 1994 to 2008: multiple processes affecting flank instability at Mt. Etna, J. Geophys. Res., 115, 2010.


Ruch, J., Manconi A, Zeni G, Solaro G, Pepe A, Walter TR, Lanari R. Stress transfer in the Lazufre volcanic area, Central Andes. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L22303, 2009.


Ruch, J., J. Anderssohn, T.R. Walter, M. Motagh. Caldera-scale inflation of the Lazufre volcanic area, South America, evidenced by InSAR. J. of Volcanol. and Geoth. Res., 174 (4), 337-344, 2008.


Book chapter


Ruch, J. & D. Tedesco. One year after the Nyiragongo volcano alert: evolution of the communication between Goma inhabitants (populations), scientists and local authorities. Know Risk, United Nations press, p. 376, 2005.




Xu, W., J. Ruch, S. Jónsson: Research highlights paper in NPG press release: Birth and development of two volcanic islands. Nature, vol. 552, June 2015; Outreach in several international newspapers (e.g., El Pais, Lavanguardia, Smithonian magazine), 2015.


Invitation and logistics of the multimedia exhibition "Walking Through Time" part of the “On the Trail of the Glaciers” project from the landscape photographer Fabiano Ventura with the participation of Paolo Scoppola. Winter Enrichment Program on climate change, KAUST University, Saudi Arabia, 2016.


Ruch, J., KAUST interview: Team monitors ground movements during volcano eruption in Iceland.


Walter, T.R., J. Ruch, A. Manconi, M. Shirzaei, M. Motagh, J.  Anderssohn. Die "Beule" von Lazufre: Aufwölbung eines Vulkanfelds in Chile, System Erde 1(1), Seite 30-35, doi: 10.2312/GFZ.syserde.01.01.5, in german, 2011.

Bárðarbunga rifting event in central Iceland (2014-2015).

The Bárðarbunga eruption in October 2014 (central Iceland)