Thomas S. James

Research Scientist

Research on past and present-day changes in crustal motion, sea level, and geodynamics

Current research and/or projects


I joined the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) in 1991 and I have carried out research on past and present-day sea-level change and crustal motion. Much of my research has focussed on the tectonically active and earthquake-prone Cascadia Subduction Zone of coastal British Columbia. I have also studied the Canadian Arctic and Antarctica. I have led projects on coastal geoscience and on natural hazards in the climate change and natural hazards programs of the Earth Science Sector, Natural Resources Canada. I was lead guest editor for a special volume on the 2012 Haida Gwaii earthquake, which was Canada’s second largest historical (instrumentally recorded) earthquake. In recent years I have been working on sea-level projections. I am an editor for a volume on climate change and Canada’s coasts.

Research and/or project statements

Current Research Projects:

  • Develop methods to generate projections of sea-level for Canadian coasts.
  • Investigate links between crustal deformation measured by Global Positioning System and earthquakes in eastern Canada.
  • Explore effects of past and present ice mass change on crustal motion and sea-level change in Arctic and Antarctic regions.

Professional activities / interests

Work with students:

Students interested in a Coop term or in graduate research in the general field of past and present-day glacier and sea-level change, and the Earth’s response to these changes, are invited to contact me. A background in quantitative science, engineering or mathematics would be desirable.

Education and awards

B.Sc. (Hons.) Geology with Physics, Queen’s University, Kingston, 1985.

M.A. Geophysics, Princeton University, New Jersey, 1987.

Ph.D. Geophysics, Princeton University, New Jersey, 1991.

International experience and/or work

I participated in fieldwork in the Transantarctic Mountains with American colleagues to measure crustal motion due to past and present-day changes of the Antarctic ice sheets.

Key publications

  1. Lemmen, D.S., Warren, F.J., James, T.S. and Mercer Clarke, C.S.L. editors (2016): Canada’s Marine Coasts in a Changing Climate; Government of Canada, Ottawa, ON, 274p. 

  2. James, T.S., Henton, J.A., Leonard, L.J., Darlington, A., Forbes, D.L., and Craymer, M., 2015. Tabulated values of relative sea-level projections in Canada and the adjacent mainland United States; Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 7942, 81 p. doi:10.4095/297048.
  3. James, T.S., J.F. Cassidy, G.C. Rogers, P.J. Haeussler, 2015. Introduction to the Special Issue on the 2012 Haida Gwaii and 2013 Craig Earthquakes at the Pacific-North American Plate Boundary (British Columbia and Alaska), Bull. Seis. Soc. Am., 105, pp. 1053-1057.

  4. Bush, E., J. Loder, T.S. James, L.D. Mortsch, and S.J. Cohen, Chapter 2., An Overview of Canada’s Changing Climate, in Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division, Ottawa, p. 23-64, 2014.

  5. Ivins, E.R., and James, T.S., Antarctic glacial isostatic adjustment: A new assessment, Antarctic Science, 17, 541-553, 2005.

Research facility

9860 W. Saanich Road
Sidney, BC V8L 4B2


Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria.

Member of the Canadian Geophysical Union, American Geophysical Union, and the European Geosciences Union.

Member of the Canadian Committee on Antarctic Research.