PhD Studentship: Quantifying the influence of 2D and 3D stress histories on reservoir quality in active tectonic basins

As part of the GeoPOP4 industry-funded research consortium (see we are seeking to appoint a 3 year fully funded PhD student to investigate the influence of 2D and 3D stress histories on reservoir quality of clastic sediments in active tectonic sedimentary basins. GeoPOP (Geosciences Project on OverPressure) is a multi-disciplinary research group led by Durham University in conjunction with University of Newcastle and funded by the hydrocarbon industry.

Project description

Fluid pressures above the hydrostatic are common in sedimentary basins throughout the world and the need for accurate pore pressure prediction has grown as exploration wells are drilled to deeper targets and there are more carbon capture and storage projects. A coupled geomechanical or coupled poro-elastoplastic approach provides a means for testing potential scenarios under which excess pressure above hydrostatic pressure, or overpressure, can develop, how overpressure may dissipate or be redistributed across the basin, and how overpressure impacts migration and seal capacity. Forward coupled geomechanical fluid flow models track the pore pressure throughout geological time, providing a robust framework to understand the porosity and permeability evolution of the sediments based on predictions of effective stress through time.

The East Coast Basin of the North Island, New Zealand is a gas-prone basin filled with convergent margin sediments, which are variably overpressured with depth. The presence and magnitude of overpressure is variable throughout the basin and is an ideal system in which to explore how the interplay of stratigraphy and structure impacts the development of overpressure. Through the use of coupled forward geomechanical modeling , wireline data, core samples, petrophysical and petrographic data sets will be used to test hypotheses of the impact of horizontal tectonic stresses in a convergent margin, the role of basin compartmentalization and the effects of uplift and erosion on pore pressure evolution and reservoir quality variability. It is expected the PhD student will work closely with the GeoPOP4 industry sponsors and a Postdoctoral researcher to fully test the models in other tectonically active sedimentary basins.


Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject (Geophysics, Geology, Earth Sciences, Engineering Geology or a numerical science) and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification.

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full home (UK and EU) tuition fees, a full UKRI-equivalent doctoral stipend (see:, and access to generous research support. Evidence of English language proficiency may also be required if applicants are not native speakers of English.

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Stuart Jones ( However, applications must be made using Durham University on-line application portal. Please apply here

The deadline for applications is 17:00, Friday 29th May 2020. Applications will be reviewed and shortlisted, and interviews will take place from w/c 8th June 2020. The studentship will start as soon as possible and no later than October 2020.

published: 22 May 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.