Imperial College London

April 2018 ESE Newsletter


Richard Davy explaining volcanic subduction to the public

Simulating volcanic eruptions in the Lesser Antilles

The ESE shows its research to the public at the Imperial Festival


Imperial Festival
Conferences, Lectures and Seminars
Impact and Media
PhD vivas
New staff


Zimmerman, R. (2018), Imperial College Lectures in Petroleum Engineering Vol 5, "Fluid Flow in Porous Media". World Scientific Publishers. London, UK. DOI: 10.1142/9781786345004.

Howarth S., Prytulak J., Little S.H., Hammond S.J., & Widdowson M. (2018), Thallium concentration and thallium isotope composition of lateritic terrains. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, DOI:

de Souza, G.F., Khatiwala, S.P., Hain, M. P.,
Little, S.H., & Vance, D. (2018), On the origin of the marine zinc–silicon correlation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 492, 22-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.03.050.

Banham, S. G., Gupta, S., Rubin, D.M., Watkins, J.A., Sumner, D.Y., Edgett, K.S., Grotzinger, J.P., Lewis, K.W., Edgar, L.A., Stack-Morgan, K.M., Barnes, R., Bell, J.F. III, Day, M.D., Ewing, R.C., Lapotre, M.G.A., Stein, N.T., Rivera-Hernández, F., & Vasavada, A.R. (2018), Ancient Martian aeolian processes and palaeomorphology reconstructed from the Stimson formation on the lower slope of Aeolis Mons, Gale crater, Mars. Sedimentology, DOI: 10.1111/sed.12469. Supplementary teaching slides can be found here.

Madjid, M.Y.A., Vandeginste, V., Hampson, G.J., Jordan, C.J., & Booth, A.D. (2018), Drones in carbonate geology: opportunities and challenges, and application in diagenetic dolomite geobody mapping. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 91, 723-734. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2018.02.002.

Speirs, J., Balcombe, P., Johnson, E., Martin, J., Brandon, N., & Hawkes, A. (2018). A greener gas grid: What are the options. Energy Policy. 118. 291-297. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2018.03.069.

Phillips, T.B., Jackson, C.A-L., Bell, R.E, & Duffy, O.B. (2018). Oblique reactivation of lithosphere-scale lineaments controls rift physiography-the upper-crustal expression of the Sorgenfrei-Tornquist Zone, offshore southern Norway. Solid Earth, 9, 403-429. DOI: 10.5194/se-9-403-2018.

Rodriguez, C.R., Jackson, C.A-L., Rotevatn, A., Bell, R.E, & Francis, M. (2018). Dual tectonic-climatic controls on salt giant deposition in the Santos Basin, offshore Brazil. Geosphere, 14, 215-242. DOI: 10.1130/GES01434.1.

Patruno, S., Reid, W., Jackson, C.A-L, & Davies, C. (2018). New insights into the unexploited reservoir potential of the Mid North Sea High (UKCS quadrants 35–38 and 41–43): a newly described intra-Zechstein sulphate–carbonate platform complex. In: Petroleum Geology of NW Europe: 50 Years of Learning – Proceedings of the 8th Petroleum Geology Conference. Journal of the Geological Society, 87-124. doi:

Dmitrieva, E., Jackson, C.A-L., Huuse, M, & Kane, I.A. (2018). Regional distribution and controls on the development of post-rift turbidite systems: insights from the Paleocene of the eastern North Viking Graben, offshore Norway. In: Petroleum Geology of NW Europe: 50 Years of Learning – Proceedings of the 8th Petroleum Geology Conference. Journal of the Geological Society, 147-170. doi:

Imperial Festival

The Department of Earth Science and Engineering had a number places at the Imperial Festival. The Festival ran from 28 to 29 April and several ESE research groups showed their work to an interested and motivated general public. Read more about the Department of Earth Science and Engineering's activities at the Festival.

  • MAGIC Group photo

    MAGIC Group photo

  • Scientists in the making

    Scientists in the making

  • Richard Davy explaining a volcano eruption

    Richard Davy explaining a volcano eruption

  • Gold panning

    Gold panning

  • Shrink my footprint exhibit

    Shrink my footprint exhibit

The Mass Spectrometry and Isotope Geochemistry (MAGIC) group participated at Imperial Festival with the interactive stand “MAGIC Elements”. The stand was in the Hands on Zone for children below the age of 12. Two busy days saw hundreds of budding young scientists dress up in protective equipment enter the “MAGIC lab”, build their own elements and listen to an interactive demonstration. The demonstration introduced the scientists-to-be to the history of the Antarctic ice sheet and how our knowledge of the past can help us predict future climate impacts. Thanks goes out to all the keen, helpful and enthusiastic members of MAGIC as well as Ruth Davey and Amelia Davies. The outreach activity was made possible by the Grantham Institute, providing a public engagement grant, and funds from the ESE department.

The Volatiles in the Lesser Antilles (VoiLA) group had an impressive volcanic exhibition with eruptions every 15 minutes. The objective was to explain the subduction system in the Lesser Antilles, showing how water interacts with volcanoes promoting mantle melting.

At the Engineering Zone ‘Enginuity’, the Advanced Minerals Processing Research Group had kids and parents panning for gold and trying to figure out what sort of minerals are inside our smartphones. The ‘Enginuity’ area also hosted the exhibit from the Qatar Carbonates and Carbon Storage Research Centre (QCCSRC) showing how trapping carbon deep underground can help avoiding the world’s temperature to raise more than 1.5°C

The Sustainable Gas institute also had a stand at Imperial College festival, but in the Green Zone. Anyone with an interest in climate change, the environment and the future of our planet visited the zone. Jasmin Cooper, Zara Qadir and Daniel Crow demonstrated ‘Shrink my carbon footprint’ game with use of ping pong balls as carbon dioxide molecules.

Conferences, Lectures and Seminars

On 25 April, Chris Jackson gave his ‘inaugural lecture’ to an audience including his Mum! Entitled Jungle Volcano, Chris’ talk covered his background growing up in Derbyshire, his seismic reflection-based research on volcanoes and volcanic plumping systems, and his involvement in BBC2’s film: Expedition Volcano. Chris also delivered a talk with the same name at the GeoTeric Technology Forum, London. This time focusing on his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo to film Expedition Volcano for the BBC. At the same event Mike Steventon gave a talk entitled “Strain distribution within mass-transport complexes (MTCs): seismic characterisation and structural restoration, offshore Uruguay.


Chris Jackson giving his inaugural lecture 

Chris Jackson also gave a talk entitled ‘Peering inside and below volcanoes’ to the Brighton Geological Society (4 April), being the first and presumably last time he’ll give a talk inside a windmill(!). Chris also found free time to give a talk on the Earth Science preprint service, EarthArXiv, to the Natural History Museum via their Library seminar series (30 April). If anybody has questions about EarthArXiv, please do not hesitate to get in touch with him.

Finally, Dick Selley lectured on ‘Fracking shale gas & oil’ to the Aberdeen Branch of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain.


We are pleased to announce the following award winners:

  1. Robert Zimmerman received the 2017 Editor’s Citation for Excellence in Refereeing for JGR-Solid Earth from the American Geophysical Union.
  2. PhD student Sam Brooke-Barnett, working on salt tectonics in the Alps with Rod Graham and Lidia Lonergan has been awarded £2500 to fund his upcoming field work in SE France from the Geological Society of London Research Grants and through a CASP  Fieldwork Award.
  3. Kieran Kraus (Petroleum Geoscience MSc class, 2017-18) won first prize in the Landmark Earth Model Award 2017 competition for his MSc thesis entitled “Quantitative interpretation of frequency decomposition blends using seismic forward modelling: a case study on Thebe gas discovery, offshore NW Australia”, which was supported by GeoTeric and supervised by Peter Szafian (GeoTeric) and Rebecca Bell.

Impact and Media

Dick Selley gave interviews to the press and radio pontificating on the Surrey earthquake. The tremor happened at 12pm 1 of April in Newdigate with an intensity of 2.7 on the Richter scale.

Also, Philippa Mason’s and Christine Bischoff’s research about ground movement in London appeared in the Evening Standard and Mapping London. Christine uses DInSAR (Differential Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) to understand ground movement and its causes in London. The rather interesting map shows the clear impact of the Crossrail route tunnelling.

Bischoff's map clearly showing the effect of Crossrail to London's ground level


On 17 April, Dr Rebekah Moore gave a talk to 14-15 year old students from Finchley High School. The focus was an introduction to earth sciences, ESE and Imperial College (including current entry requirements). She also talked briefly about her research which uses and adapts geochemistry techniques to study human and plant metabolism of metals. The students were very engaged, asked a lot of questions about earth science (especially field work and maths!), Rebekah's research, skills and university in general. It was a successful visit, which sparked some interest in earth science and continuing science subjects into A-level.

On a rather mythological turn Mitchell Liddell gave a well-received talk (28 April) on the topic of Tectonics in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth at a conference held at UCL, organised by Signum University. It was a great opportunity to expose academics from fields like linguistics and literature to the basics of plate tectonics from a context of mutual interest.

Tectonics of Middle-Earth

PhD vivas

Thibaut Defoort successfully defended his PhD thesis, entitled "Finite element modelling of rock cutting using a polycrystalline diamond compact cutter", on 25 April. His PhD was supervised by Adriana Paluszny and Robert Zimmerman, and was funded by National Oilwell Varco. His examiners were Stephen Neethling and Bob Fowell (Leeds).

Congratulations also to Basins Research Group’s Idrus Puasa, who successfully passed his PhD viva with no corrections! Supervised by Howard Johnson, Peter Fitch, and Chris Jackson, Idrus’ PhD focused on the sedimentological, petrophysical, and seismic reflection expression of thin-bedded turbidites in deep-water depositional systems, offshore Brunei.

New staff

Fiorella Barraza, from the University of Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, is a research visitor in the department for six weeks (from 23rd April). Working with Mark Rehkamper and Rebekah Moore, she will undertake stable isotope analysis of cadmium in cocoa plants in the MAGIC group's metal-free and mass spectrometry laboratories.

Jasmin Cooper just joined the Sustainable Gas Institute and will be involved in the Methane Environmental Programme. Jasmin has a First-class degree in Chemical Engineering with Environmental Technology, and a PhD in life cycle sustainability and sustainable development, both from The University of Manchester. An interview to Jasmin and her future work at the Institute can be found on the Sustainable Gas Institute website.


Mr Francisco Reyes

Mr Francisco Reyes
Department of Earth Science & Engineering

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