Myra Keep

Professor, BSc Lond., MSc Br.Col., PhD S.Methodist

  • The University of Western Australia (M004), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • M468
    35 Stirling Highway


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Personal profile


BSc University College London, 1987
MSc University of British Columbia, 1989
PhD SMU, Texas, 1994


If it breaks, or shakes, I love it. Precambrian? Awesome! Neogene? Superb! Brittle? Heck yes! Ductile? Any day of the week! In the field? Yesyesyes! In deep ocean core? OMGYes! On seismic? Always. With more geophysics? Yes please! Real rocks? Fantastic! Remotely-sensed data? Give me more! Basement reactivation? Makes the world go round. With Mass transport deposits? Yes please! Education and outreach? It's the only way to share the love.

Structural Geology/Tectonics: I work on structural geology and tectonics in rocks of all ages, from ductile deformation and microstructure in the Precambrian to Quaternary deformation and recent earthquake-generated landslide deposits

Seismic interpretation: much of my work is with seismic data, both shallow (exploration scale) and deep-crustal (20 seconds TWT), both onshore and offshore. I look specifically  for deformation, fault reactivation, inversion, basement control, active faults, and landslide deposits. For younger deformation I am interested in links with present-day and palaeoseismology. I also work with sub-bottom profile data, which can also recorded surface deformation and mass transport deposits.

Seismo-tectonics/neotectonics/geohazards: I investigate links between earthquakes and mass transport deposits in both interplate and intraplate tectonic settings, both onshore and offshore. There are strong links between seismicity, geohazards and landscapes in Western Australia. In the course of this work over many years I have investigated both onshore and offshore seismicity, and deployed seismic monitoring networks in remote areas of NW Western Australia.

Marine Geology: part of my interest in seismicity and tectonics takes me offshore. In recent years I have been part of two scientific expeditions, SO257 and IODP Expedition 386. Expedition SO257, aboard the German vessel RV Sonne, travelled from Darwin to Perth, collecting sediment cores and imaging of shallow crustal deformation. I was part of a geophysics/seismic team that collected a number of new, shallow, multichannel seismic lines across the North West Shelf, as well as also collecting bathymetry and sub-bottom profile data. Our results identified a number of new, young landslide deposits across our work areas, allowing us to document structural processes and links to seismicity. IODP Exp 386, Japan Trench Seismology, collected deep oceanic sediment cores and detailed bathymetric and sub-bottom profile imagery to identify records of past mega-earthquakes in the Japan Trench. As Team Leader Hydroacoustics I work mainly with the remotly-acquired data (bathymetry, sub-bottom profiles) to map the extent of the many mass transport deposits identified in the data, and processes that affected them.

Basement inheritance: It is clear from our large regional interpretations of deep crustal seismic data, that basement reactivation, mainly of Precambrian stuctures,  plays a large role in controlling the locations of active faults in NW Western Australia. We have documented this across the NW Shelf of Australia, linking basement inheritance and reactivation to multiple pulses of shortening and inversion throughout the Phanerozoic.

Tectonics of East Timor: Having started UWA’s geology research program in East Timor in 2003, I have made dozens of trips and spent months in the field in East Timor, conducting field research and training generations of Australian research students and East Timorese undergraduate and postgraduate students. I continue to work with government agencies in supporting their ongoing development efforts.

Planetary geology: I've maintained an interest in planetary geology since my PhD days, and continue to offer student projects, especially interpreting Magellan data on Venus. This incredible dataset still has much to offer in terms of understanding crustal processes on our sister planet.

Teaching Outdoors: I'm passionate about education and outreach, and have developed an award-winning microcredential to encourage teachers to develop multi-disciplinary outdoor learning programs.

Roles and responsibilities

School of Earth Science roles include:

Teach and coordinate multiple units throughout the geology major and Master of Geoscience programs

School of Earth Sciences Education Committee


UWA roles include:

Academy Fellowship Scheme Steering Committee Member

Academy Fellowship Scheme Community of Practice co-lead


External roles include:

Australia and New Zealand IODP Consortium Science Committee Vice Chair

Future research

Palaeoseismology in the Japan Trench

Seismo-tectonics of the northern Australian margin
Structural and tectonic evolution of East Timor
Neotectonics of northern WA
Structural inheritance on the NWS and its control on strain partitioning through time.

Current projects

Japan Trench Palaeoseismology
As Team Leader for Hydroacoustics for IODP Exp 386, I continue to work on the various datasets acquired during the voyage, and collaborate with the extensive scientific team to identify and interpret palaeoseismicity in the Japan Trench.


The neo- and seismo-tectonics of the northwestern Australia

Anything young on seismic that has breached the surface or is near surface, preferably with some lovely MTDs nearby. Especially if it links with deeper structures.


Tectonic evolution of East Timor
We have been working in East Timor since 2003, looking closely at the structural relationships and re-mapping and re-dating the formations, with a view to constraining and formulating models for the tectonic evolution of this part of Timor Island.   See also the page of my colleague, Dr. David Haig.

Hydroacoustic and seismic data, NWS
I continue to work on and integrate the seismic and other hydroacoustic data from SO257 into our broader NWS databases.


Basins/minerals/multi-stage basin evolution

Currently contributing to a couple of related projects looking at multi-phase basin histories and links to mineralisation in WA.


Funding overview


2020-2023 ARC Linkage Grant

Evolution of Proterozoc multistage rift basins - key to mineral systems

Jessell, Gorczyk, Lindsay, Aitken, Keep, Lang, Densyszyn, Cruden, Rey Betts, Salles


2018-2022 Minerals Research Institute of WA

Geodynamics through time: geodynamic, lithospheric and crustal-scale controls on multi-stage basin evolution and orogenesis and link to mineralising processes.

Gorczyk, Jessell, Occhipinti, Aitken, Lindsay Keep


2020-2022 IODP 386

Japan Trench Palaeoseismology

Offshore and onshore science party member - delayed and modified due to COVID-19.


2019-2021 DAAD

Investigation of geohazards along the northwestern Australian margin revealed by high resolution hydroacoustic data sets.

Keep, O'Leary Krastel


2016-2018, Inpex

Inversion tectonics on the NWS

Keep, Gartrell


2008-2010, Eni Australia Ltd
Keep and Haig
The petroleum prospectivity of East Timor

Industrial relevance

I've been fortunate enough to receive support from a number of companies past and present, including: Woodside Energy, Santos, AGIP, Shell Development Australia, Landmark Graphics Corporation, Petrosys Corporation, Apache Energy, TGS Nopec, Empire Oil and Gas, Robertson Research, Chevron, PGS, Petroleum Experts, Inpex, IHS Markit.

Thanks to all current and previous sponsors

Teaching overview

EART1104: Discovering Earth

EART2234: Earth Processes

EART3343: Structural Geology and Tectonics

GEOS5506: Structural Analysis for Energy Systems

GEOS5596: Internship

GEOSM506: Teaching Outdoors

Honours, Masters and PhD supervision

Education and Outreach



Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Research expertise keywords

  • Structural geology
  • Tectonics
  • Neotectonics
  • Geohazard
  • Planetary geology
  • Regional geophysics and tectonics
  • Field geology
  • Earth Science Teaching


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