World Class Research Facilities
The Department of Earth Science and Engineering has state-of-the-art laboratories and research facilities, as you would expect at a world-leading university.
The Department and Imperial College London maintain some of the finest facilities for advanced geoscience and computational study in the world, including:
- extensive computing capabilities
- the world-class College library
- large collections of subsurface data from around the world.
We train students with industry-standard software, hardware and data. On campus, most taught modules involve teaching in a state-of-the-art MSc classroom. This major facility is the result of over £1 million of investment in classroom refurbishment, computer hardware, software, visualisation equipment, printing, scanning and networking. The facility has a network of high-spec, twin-screened PCs equipped with a full suite of industry-standard software. Our MSc courses utilise many datasets that have been donated by industry, particularly for project work; students are trained using real-world data to solve real-world problems.
Our teaching areas, seminar rooms and research facilities are conveniently located at the heart of the South Kensington Campus. Teaching takes place within the world-renowned Royal School of Mines building, with audiovisual facilities that are updated annually to keep us abreast of the latest technologies. Outside of teaching hours, undergraduates have their own study room with computers, microscopes and samples for self-study. The Royal School of Mines building has its own cafe, where students can eat cheaply, and its own Union, which offers a wide range of clubs and societies.
Find out more about our research facilities:
The Department of Earth Science and Engineering hosts state-of-the-art analytical and imaging facilities. The laboratories include:
The LODE laser lab
Located in the analytical suite at the Natural History Museum is a state-of-the-art laser ablation ICP-MS facility, generously funded by Anglo American and Rio Tinto.
Stable Isotope facilities
The carbonate group operates the "Qatar Stable Isotope Lab", which is equipped with new instrumentation purchased in part using research funds allocated to us by the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) in the framework of a $70 million project on carbon capture and storage.
The MAGIC Labs (Mass Spectrometry and Isotope Geochemistry at Imperial College London) are a major analytical facility that encompasses wet chemistry laboratories, two metal-free clean room laboratories, and two mass spectrometry laboratories. The primary focus of the facility are high precision isotope measurements of numerous trace metals (e.g., Zn, Sr, Mo, Cd, Te, Nd, Tl, Pb and others) in a wide range of natural samples including meteorites, terrestrial rocks, sediments and aerosols, seawater and marine particulates, and biological materials. These laboratories are also used by the Environmental Geochemistry Group, led by Professor Dominik Weiss.
Professor Adrian Muxworthy of IARC runs the palaeomagnetism laboratory at the White City Campus allowing for the detailed analysis and characterisation of magnetic minerals.
State-of-the-art transmission electromicroscopy, gas- and liquid-mass spectroscopy and chemical detection laboratories are operated by the Department as well in partnership with institutes such as the Natural History Museum.
Laboratory equipment for measuring self-potential (SP) at reservoir conditions with application to reservoir and aquifer monitoring, IOR/EOR, rock characterisation.
The ESE imaging suite provides a desktop scanning electron microscope and 3D scanners, together with optical microscopy and photography facilities.
Digital Rocks Lab
A multi-million collaboration between Shell Global Solutions International BV and Imperial College London, the Imperial-Shell Digital Rocks Lab aims to revolutionise the way reservoirs are characterised and how to design carbon dioxide storage, and oil and gas recovery. The Lab is a collaboration between Imperial’s Departments of Earth Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Materials. It is co-directed by ESE’s Professor Martin Blunt, and Dr Sam Krevor, a Theme Leader.
To find out more about the wide-range of resources and facilities that researchers in the department regularly use, please visit our research page.
State-of-the-art in-house software for modelling and simulation have been developed by the department over the last few decades for application in a wide-variety of physical and engineering processes. Research has culminated in the development of major numerical codes such as
- EVENTis a general purpose finite element neutral particle radiation transport code and has been used to model radiation exchange in atmospheres, complex radiation shielding problems and near infrared optical tomography. EVENT also forms the radiation module of the coupled radiation/hydrodynamics code FETCH, used for modelling the criticality of fissile solutions.
- FETCH was developed in order to model process criticality accidents involving fissile solutions, porous media and granular material - together with large-scale coupled behaviour of innovative nuclear reactors. FETCH consists of three modules: a radiation module EVENT; a fluids module Fluidity and a linking module which provides the interface between the radiation and fluids modules.
- Firedrake is an automated system for the portable solution of partial differential equations using the finite element method (FEM). Firedrake enables users to employ a wide range of discretisations to an infinite variety of PDEs and employ either conventional CPUs or GPUs to obtain the solution.
- Fluidity is an open-source, multiphase CFD and marine modelling framework including novel unstructured and adaptive mesh capabilities and the ability to run efficiently on massively parallel supercomputers.
- Full-waveform inversion (FWI) is a computational technique for analysing seismic data that can build high-resolution high-fidelity three-dimensional quantitative models of physical properties in the subsurface.
- Imperial College Finite Element Reservoir SimulaTor (IC-FERST) is an oil reservoir simulator and Darcy porous media flow solver.
- Imperial College Geomechanics Toolkit (ICGT) is a C++ based, three-dimensional finite element simulator for fracture growth and fragmentation of brittle rocks. It models fluid flow and transport through fractured rocks with geomechanically-generated apertures, and simulates thermo-poro-elastic deformation of porous fractured rocks. ICGT interacts closely with CSMP++, and uses adaptive remeshing to adapt the 3D mesh to the evolving geometry as the simulation progresses.
- Open Performance portablE SeismiC Imaging (OPESCI) is a framework for subsurface imaging. Its development focus on exploiting modern trends in computer science and numerical analysis to achieve performance portability across modern many-core computer architectures while maintaining a high level abstraction that allows rapid research, development and deployment.
- OpenTidalFarm is an open-source software for the simulation and optimisation of large arrays of tidal turbines utilising efficient adjoint-based algorithms.
- QGIS meshing plugins can be used to mesh realistic domains. See the meshing pages for further details.
- Spud is a generic system for defining, writing and processing options files for scientific computer models.
- V-GeST is a suite of Virtual Geoscience Simulation Tools for modelling discontinuous systems, i.e. particulate, granular, blocky, layered, fracturing and fragmenting systems.
High performance computing
As well as access to high-performance systems within each research group, the department has wide access to 3 supercomputers housed in the ICT data centre as part of the HPC service. These systems provide a substantial computing capacity to researchers at the college. This accelerates current projects which use HPC as a major tool. In addition, researchers who are currently constrained to desktop computing resources are able to expand the scope of their research by using the facilities.
Click for more information about HPC resources for research.
ESE Computing Labs
ESE has a number of computing labs available for use by students in the following rooms in the Royal School of Mines. All machines have 21" monitors unless stated otherwise.
G.36 - 56 x HP EliteDesk 800 G3 SFF (i5-7500 CPU @ 3.40GHz, 16GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 730) - single monitor
3.34 - 30 x HP EliteDesk 800 G6 TWR (i7-10700 CPU @ 2.90GHz, 16GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER) - single monitor
3.35 - 35 x HP EliteDesk 800 G6 TWR (i7-10700 CPU @ 2.90GHz, 16GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER) - single monitor
3.36/7 - 60 x HP EliteDesk 800 G2 TWR (i7-6700 CPU @ 3.40GHz, 16GB RAM, NVIDIA Quadro K620) - dual 19" monitors
3.38 - 65 x HP EliteDesk 800 G2 DM (i7-6700 CPU @ 3.40GHz, 8GB Ram, Intel HD Graphics 530) - single monitor
NB: All machines in the computing labs are running Windows 10 Enterprise. Users of these shared resources should be reminded that the machines are restarted weekly for maintenance reasons and that it is the user's responsibility to maintain up-to-date backups of all data. User data stored locally are periodically removed for maintenance and security reasons so ensure all your data is stored in OneDrive, H Drive, in your email or some external media. All users agree and accept the College's Conditions of use for IT facilities.
Please ensure all your data is backed up in another location. Do not lose all your work due to any misfortune, by having everything stored in a single location. The more important the data, the more places it should be stored. See guidance on ‘saving my files’ for more information.
The Research Data Store (RDS) is accessible across the college network with generous allocations. The data is held securely, and redundancy is available.
The department also makes use of cloud infrastructure for research and teaching. This service is maintained by the ESE Computing team.