Professor John Howe

        Geologist Prof John Howe lecturing

Marine Geologist

BSc (Hons) Marine Science undergraduate programme leader since 2016. Developed and delivered the BSc (Hons) Marine Science degree since 1998. Supervised 12 undergraduate geoscience projects. Director of Studies for five PhD students.

Head of Biogeochemistry and Earth Sciences Department 2009-2015.

Published 91 research outputs. Grant capture from EU, NERC and diverse commercial projects.

SAGES Graduate School convener.

Contact details:
  • +44 (0)1631 559 257

  • Google Scholar

  • john.howe1969

Marine geomorphology and habitats using multibeam mapping both vessel based and from autonomous underwater vehicles.

Marine current-influenced sedimentation, fjords and shelf sea sediment as archives of Quaternary climate change.

Much of this work has been based in mid-high latitude seas, notably the Antarctic and the Fram Strait region of the Arctic.


Current research projects

: Developing tools for managing and monitoring Marine Protected Areas in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Western Scotland. Funded by EU INTERREG VA Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. 2018-22

MAREMAP (marine environmental mapping project). Funded by NERC since 2010.

NEXUSS. Funded by NERC. 2016-19

SIFIDS. Funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. 2016-19


Highlight past projects

INIS Hydro. Funded by EU SEUPB. 2011-14

LORISE. Funded by NERC. 2013-18

John is the Programme Leader for the Marine Science BSc.



Marine Science BSc: Modue leader year 1 'Fundamentals of Marine Geology'

Marine Science BSc: Module leader year 2 'Marine Geology'

Marine Science BSc: Tutor year 1 'Field course'

Marine Science BSc: Lecturer year 2 'Marine Resources'

Marine Science BSc: Lecturer year 3 'Marine robotics'

Marine Science BSc: Lecturer year 4 'Polar Seas'

Marine Science BSc: Practical class year 4 'Palaeoceanography'

Marine Science BSc: Lecturer year 4 'Deep-sea Ecosystems'

Marine Science BSc: Supervisor year 4 'Dissertation'


Current research students

Karen Boswarva: AUV for habitat mapping. PhD 2016-19. UHI

Allan Audsley: Gas-related pock marks. PhD 2017-20. University of Stirling

Nils Piechaud: AUV for deep-water habitat mapping. Plymouth University

Craig Smeaton: Blue carbon assessment. PhD 2013-17. University of St Andrews


Alumni research students

Riccardo Arosio: Glaciation in the Inner Hebrides. PhD 2013-17. UHI

Clara Morri: North Atlantic current controlled sediment. PhD 2001-04. UHI

Suzanne MacLachlan: Western Svalbard Holocene records. PhD 2004-07. UHI

Kate McIntyre: Younger Dryas in the Firth of Lorn. PhD 2007-11. UHI

Selected publications

McGeady R, Runya RM, Dooley JSG, Howe JA, Fox CJ, Wheeler AJ, Summers G, Callaway A, Beck S, Brown LS, Dooly G, McGonigle C (2023) A review of new and existing non-extractive techniques for monitoring marine protected areas. Front. Mar. Sci. 10:1126301. 

Armstrong C, Howe JA, Allen C, Watson P (2021) Mobile bedform dynamics approaching a bedload parting site: Pentland Firth, northeast UK. Marine Geology 443: 106686 

Armstrong C, Howe JA, Dale A, Allen C (2021) Bathymetric observations of an extreme tidal flow: Approaches to the Gulf of Corryvreckan, western Scotland, UK. Continental Shelf Research 217: 1-13 

Runya R, McGonigle C, Quinn T, Howe J, Collier J, Fox C, Dooley J, O’Loughlin R, Calvert J, Scott L, Abernethy C, Evans W (2021) Examining the Links between Multi-Frequency Multibeam Backscatter Data and Sediment Grain Size. Remote Sensing 13(8), 1539;

Ray D, Leary P, Livens F, Gray N, Morris K, Law KA, Fuller AJ, Abrahamsen-Mills L, Howe J,  Tierney K, Muir G, Law GTW (2020) Controls on anthropogenic radionuclide distribution in the Sellafield-impacted Eastern Irish Sea. Science of the Total Environment, 743: 140765

Carter, D.G, Cooper, R, Gafeira, J., Howe, J.A. and Long, D. (2020) Morphology of small-scale submarine mass movement events across the northwest United Kingdom. Geomorphology, 365: 107282

Husum K, Howe JA, Baltzer A, Forwick M, Jensen M, Jernas P, Korsum S, Miettienen A, Mohan R, Morigi C, Myhre PI, Prins MA, Skirbekk K, Sternal B, Boos M, Dijkstra N and Troelstra S (2019) The marine sedimentary environments of Kongsfjorden, Svalbard: an archive of polar environmental change. Polar Research, 38, 3380

Howe, J.A., Husum, K., Inall, M.E., Coogan, J., Luckman, A., Arosio, R. Abernethy, C. and Verchilli, D. (2019) Autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) observations of tidewater glacier retreat, western Svalbard. Marine Geology 417,

Audsley A, Bradwell T and Howe JA (2019) Distribution and classification of pockmarks on the seabed around western Scotland. Journal of Maps, 15:2, 807-817, DOI: 10.1080/17445647.2019.1676320

Millan-Aguinaga N, Soldatou S, Brozio S, Howe J, Hoskisson P and Duncan K (2019) Awakening ancient polar actinobacteria: diversity, evolution and specialized metabolite potential. Microbiology Research 165, 1,

Butschek F, Arosio R, Austin WEN, Noormets R and Howe JA (2018) Late Weichselian glacial history of Forlandsundet, western Svalbard: an inter-ice-stream setting. Arktos

Boswarva K, Butters A, Fox CJ, Howe JA, Narayanaswamy B (2018) Improving marine habitat mapping using high-resolution acoustic data; a predictive habitat map for the Firth of Lorn, Scotland. Continental Shelf Research 168: 39-47 DOI: 10.1016/j.csr.2018.09.005

Smeaton, C, Austin, WEN, Davies, AL, Baltzer, A, Howe, JA, and Baxter, JM (2017) Scotland's forgotten carbon: a national assessment of mid-latitude fjord sedimentary carbon stocks. Biogeosciences, 14, 5663-5674. DOI: 

Arosio, R., K. C. Crocket, G. M. Nowell, S. Louise Callard, J. A. Howe, S. Benetti, D. Fabel, S. Moreton and C. D. Clark (2017) Weathering fluxes and sediment provenance on the SW Scottish shelf during the last deglaciation. Marine Geology. DOI: .

Tierney KM, Muir GKP, Cook GT, Heymans JJ, MacKinnon G, Howe JA, Xu S, Brownlow A, Davidson NJ, ten Doeschate M, Deaville R. (2017) Nuclear Reprocessing-Related Radiocarbon (14C) Uptake into UK Marine Mammals. Marine Pollution Bulletin  10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.07.002.

Burrows, M.T., Hughes, D.J., Austin, W.E.N., Smeaton, C., Hicks, N., Howe, J.A., Allen, C., Taylor, P., Vare, L.L., (2017). Assessment of blue carbon resources in Scotland’s inshore MPA network, Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 957. Scottish Association for Marine Science.

Muir, G., et al., 2016 Ecosystem uptake and transfer of Sellafield-derived Radiocarbon (14C) Part 1. The Irish Sea Marine Pollution Bulletin

Macdonald, F., Howe, J.A., Jones, S., Weeks, R.J., and Houpert, L. (2016) The Scottish Marine Robotics Facility: Use of unmanned vehicles for environmental measurement, monitoring and decision making. IFAC-PapersOnLine 49-23 482-485

Smeaton, C. Austin, W.E.N., Davies, A.L., Blatzer, A., Abell, R.E. & Howe, J.A. (2016) Substantial stores of sedimentary carbon held in mid-latitude fjords. Biogeosciences. 13 (20), 5771

Dove, D., Finlayson, A., Bradwell, T., Howe, J.A., Arosio, R. (2016) Deglacial landform assemblage records fast ice-flow and retreat, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. From: Dowdeswell, J. A., Canals, M., Jakobsson, M., Todd, B. J., Dowdeswell, E. K. & Hogan, K. A. (eds) 2016. Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms: Modern, Quaternary and Ancient. Geological Society, London, Memoirs, 46, 135–138,

Arosio, R. Dove, D., Howe, J.A. & O’Cofaigh (2016) A reappraisal of deglaciation in southwestern Scotland, with new constraints from seafloor geomorphology and seismic stratigraphy. Memoir of the geological Society of London

Muir, G.K.P., Tieney, K. M., Cook, G.T., MacKinnon, G., Howe, J.A., Heymans, J.J., Hughes, D.J. & Xu, S. (2016) Ecosystem uptake of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) Part 1: The Irish Sea. The Science of the Total Environment

Audsley, A., Arosio, R., and Howe, J.A. (2016) A geomorphological reconstructing of the deglaciation of Loch Etive during the Loch Lomond Stadial. Scottish Journal of Geology doi:10.1144/sjg2015-004

Tierney, K., Muir, G., Cook, G. T., MacKinnon, G., Howe, J.A., Heymans, J.J. & Xu, S. (2015) Accumulation of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal shells and sediments. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 151, 321-327

Howe, J.A., Gatliff, R. and Stevenson A.G. (2015) Seabed mapping for the 21st Century. Transactions of Earth and Environmental Science, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Available on CJO 2015 doi:10.1017/S175569101500016X

Howe, J.A., Anderton, R., Arosio, R., Dove, D., Bradwell, T., Crump, P., Cooper, R. Cocuccio, A. (2015). The seabed geomorphology and geological structure of the Firth of Lorn, western Scotland UK: as revealed by multibeam echo-sounder survey. Transactions of Earth and Environmental Science, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Available on CJO 2015 doi:10.1017/S1755691015000146

Hughes, D.J., Shimmield, T.M., Black, K.D & Howe, J.A. (2015) Ecological impacts of large-scale disposal of mining waste in the deep sea. Nature Scientific Communications. 5:09985 | DOI: 10.1038/srep09985

Dove, D., Arosio, R., Finlayson, A., Bradwell, T. & Howe, J.A. (2015) Submarine glacial landforms record Late Pleistocene ice-sheet dynamics, Inner Hebrides, Scotland, Journal of Quaternary Science 123, 76-90

Howe, J.A., Dove, D., Bradwell, T. & Gaferia, J. (2012). Submarine geomorphology and glacial history of the Sea of the Hebrides, UK. Marine Geology, 315-318, 64-76

McIntyre, K.L., Howe, J.A. & Bradwell, T. (2011) Lateglacial ice extent and deglaciation of Loch Hourn, western Scotland. Scottish Journal of Geology, v. 47:169-178

Howe, J.A., Harland, R., Cottier, F., Brand, T., Willis, K., Eriksson, A., Grosfjeld, K. & Berge, J. Dinoflagellate cysts from sediment traps in Arctic Fjords. (2010) In: Howe, J.A., Austin, W.E.N., Forwick, M., & Paetzel, M. Fjords: Depositional Systems and Archives. Geological Society of London, special publication 344 61-74.

Grøsfjeld, K., Knies, J., Harland, R. & Howe, J.A. (2009) Dinoflagellate cyst assemblages inshore and offshore Svalbard reflecting their modern hydrography and climate. Norwegian Journal of Geology. 88 227-239. ISSN: 0029196X

McIntyre, K.L. & Howe, J.A. (2009) Bottom-current variability during the last glacial-deglacial transition, Northern Rockall Trough and Faeroe-Bank Channel, NE Atlantic. Scottish Journal of Geology, 45 (1), 1-16 ISSN: 0036-9276

Bradwell, T., Fabel, D., Stoker, M., Mathers, H., McHarge, L., & Howe, J. (2008) Ice caps existed throughout the Lateglacial Interstadial in northern Scotland. Journal of Quaternary Science, 23: 401-407. ISSN: 0267-8179

Howe, J.A., Shimmield, T., & Harland, R. (2008) Late Quaternary contourites and glaciomarine sedimentation in the Fram Strait. Sedimentology, 55, 179-200. ISSN: 0037-0746                                                        

Howe, J.A. Wilson, C.R., Shimmield, T.M., Diaz, R. & Carpenter, L. (2007) Recent deep-water sedimentation, trace metal and radioisotope geochemistry across the Southern Ocean and Northern Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Deep-Sea Research II, 54, 1652-1681. ISSN: 0967-0645 MacLachlan, S.E., Cottier, F., Austin, W.E.N. & Howe, J.A. (2007) The salinity: δ18O water relationship in Kongsfjorden, western Spitsbergen. Polar Research, 26, 160-167. ISSN: 0800-0395

Brandt, A., Gooday, A.J., Brandão, S.N., Brix, S., Brökeland, W., Cedhagen, T., Choudhury, M., Cornelius, N., Danis, B., De Mesel, I., Diaz, R.J., Gillan, D.C., Ebbe, E., Howe, J.A., Janussen, D., Kaiser, S., Linse, K., Malyutina, M., Pawlowski, J., Raupach, M & Vanreusel A. (2007) First insights into the biodiversity and biogeography of the Southern Ocean deep sea. Nature 447 307-311. ISSN: 0028-0836                  

Howe, J.A., Stoker, M.S., Masson, D., Bulat, J., Pudsey, C.J., Larter, R.D. & Tate, A. (2006) Seabed morphology and bottom-current pathways around Rosemary Bank Seamount, Northern Rockall Trough, North Atlantic. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 23, 165-181. ISSN: 0264-8172

Norgaard-Pederson, N., Austin, W.E.N., Howe, J.A. & Shimmield, T. (2006) A Holocene sea level record in Loch Etive, Western Scotland: hydrographic changes inferred from sediment properties and benthic foraminifera assemblages. Marine Geology. 228 55-71. ISSN: 0025-3227

Howe, J.A., Shimmield, T.M. & Diaz, R. (2004) Deep-water sedimentary environments of the northwestern Weddell Sea and South Sandwich Trench, Antarctica. Deep-Sea Research II. 51 14-16 1489-1514. ISSN: 0967-0645

Breuer, E., Stevenson, A. G., Howe, J.A. Caroll J. & Shimmield, G.B. (2004) Drill cutting accumulations in the Northern and Central North Sea: a review of environmental interactions and chemical fate. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol 48, 1-2 pp 12-25, ISSN: 0025-326X

Prizes / awards

Most Inspiring Lecturer 2012 (HISA)

Most Inspiring Lecturer 2014 (HISA)

Best Research project supervisor 2015 (HISA)


Professional activities

NERC Radiocarbon steering committee member

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Research expedition experience

Diverse and worldwide expeditions including; Papua New Guinea, Arctic, Antarctic, Chilean Patagonia, North Atlantic, Norwegian margin


Outreach / public engagement / media coverage

BBC Scotland News, BBC Scotland Radio. BBC 2‘Coast’, BBC 2 ‘Men of Rock’. BBC Scotland ‘Roads Less Travelled’; ‘Adventure Show’, NERC Planet Earth. Magazines; ‘Scuba’ ‘Geoscientist’ ‘Ocean Technology’ ‘Hydro International’ & national newspapers


Employment history

Since 2021: University of the Highlands and Islands Professor, SAMS

1998-present: Lecturer - Senior Lecturer. SAMS

1994-98: Marine Sedimentologist. British Antarctic Survey



1994 PhD Marine Geology. University of Southampton

1992 BSc (Hons) Geology. University of Derby