• United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

My research is concerned with the structural and permeability architecture of faults. Understanding 3D fault structure is key to answering many questions concerning the evolution of fault zone structures and the migration of fluids through the Earth's crust. My research focuses on four main areas

1) How do faults act as high permeability conduits? Will this type of fault allow potentially undesirable fluids, for example contaminated water or CO2, to escape from geological storage sites? Many “leaky” CO2 reservoirs are controlled by faults, and faults are responsible for controlling the formation of some ore bodies [PhD students: Megan Heather-Cooley, Nilay Gulyuz, Stewart Beattie, Ali McCay (2014), Neil Burnside (2010), Heather Moir (2010), Ben Dockrill (2006), Jonny Willson (2006). Post-docs: Yannick Kremer, Stuart Gilfillan, Jamie Kirkpatrick, Aisling Soden, Jen Roberts]

2) Low permeability faults often produce hydrocarbon traps or barriers to fluid flow.What controls the distribution of structural elements in the faults, and how does each structural element contribute to overall fault zone permeability? Is there any scaling of fault elements that would allow us to predict fault zone properties in the subsurface? [PhD students: Silvia Sosio de Rosa, Yannick Kremer (2014), Rachael Ellen (2013), Aisling Soden (2008), Aileen Bright (2006)]

3) Earthquakes are the tangible evidence of relative movements across fault zones.The processes of earthquake rupture propagation are critically dependent on fault structure and geometry. These processes can also potentially be controlled by changing fluid pressure on fault surfaces. Can we understand these processes by looking at faults exhumed from the depths where earthquakes are known to have nucleated? [PhD students: Brigitte Vogt, Jamie Kirkpatrick (2008), Susan Lawther (2011)]

4) How can we constrain uncertainty in geological models? Measurements of petrophysical fault properties can be incorporated into models of bulk fault properties, but how can we optimise data collection to capture variability? How much does our previous experience influence the way we interpret data? [PhD student Euan Macrae (2013), Post-docs: Clare Bond, Jen Roberts].

Each of these problems can be addressed by detailed characterization of fault zone structures and their permeability and physical properties. My research has a strong multidisciplinary approach and includes collaborations with geologists, civil and environmental engineers and statisticians.


Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jan 1999

Bachelor of Science, University of Leeds

Award Date: 1 Jan 1994

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Research Output

A systematic study of element mobilisation from gas shales during hydraulic fracturing

Otalega, I., Apte, S. C., King, J., Dobson, K. J., Shipton, Z. K. & Renshaw, J. C., 20 Jun 2020, p. 2002.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Open Access
  • 3 Downloads (Pure)

    Collapse processes in abandoned pillar and stall coal mines: implications for shallow mine geothermal energy

    Andrews, B. J., Cumberpatch, Z. A., Shipton, Z. K. & Lord, R., 18 Jun 2020, In : Geothermics. 88, 101904.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Activities

    Fracking Bad Language

    Jen Roberts (Speaker), Clare Bond (Contributor) & Zoe Shipton (Contributor)

    30 Jan 2020

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Communicating Geoscience: Building Public Interest and Promoting Inclusive Dialogue

    Jen Roberts (Keynote/plenary speaker), Zoe Shipton (Participant), Emma Louise Comrie (Participant), Clare Bond (Participant) & Linda Stalker (Participant)

    4 Sep 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesKey-note speaker and plenary lectures at conferences


    Research on geological uncertainty informs UK Government policies on shale gas and radioactive waste disposal

    Zoe Shipton (Participant) & Rebecca Lunn (Participant)

    Impact: Impact - for External PortalPolicy and legislation, Public understanding, information and debate, Environment and sustainability - natural world and built environment