CuBES (Copper Basin Exploration Science) is a multi-institutional project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.  The broad aim of the project is to address the fundamental geodynamic and geological controls on the development of exceptionally endowed copper basins and determine how they are best identified.  Copper is a critical metal for battery technology and electricity transmission and is a key material for the energy transition.

In the NORMS group, we test the hypothesis that continental red-bed deposits are a source of copper and other critical metals in sedimentary basins.  The copper is leached by the circulation of groundwater and transported through the basin until it reaches a physical or chemical trap, at which point it is deposited to form an ore body.  We use the specialist facilities in the Norms Laboratory to experimentally determine the mass of copper that can be released by leaching of red-bed sandstones, testing the impact of brine composition, pH and redox state, and samples of red-bed sandstones from different basins.   

The measured data are used in our bespoke simulation software (IC-FERST) to model copper transport by groundwater flow at the basin-scale, to determine critical fluid-dynamical controls on the delivery of copper-rich brines to potential ore bodies.  Research is focussed on three basins: the (1) Altiplano Basin, Bolivia; (2) Neuquén Basin, Argentina, and (3) Katangan Basin, Central Africa. These represent increasingly mature basin systems with different metal and petroleum endowments. They provide an opportunity to explore the role of contrasting geotectonic settings, basin fill, P-T-t evolution, timing and nature of mineralisation, and the connections between the minerals and petroleum systems.

We collaborate in this research with colleagues at the University of Southampton, the University of Oxford, the University of Bristol, and the Natural History Museum.  


The self-potential (SP) occurs naturally in response to pressure or concentration gradients in water in the reservoir.  As water approaches an instrumented production well, the change in SP measured at the well provides advance warning and can be used to determine the geometry of the waterfront.

Selected References

Zhang J, Vinogradov J, Leinov E, Jackson MD, et al., 2017, Streaming potential during drainage and imbibition, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH, Vol: 122, Pages: 4413-4435, ISSN: 2169-9313

Al Mahrouqi D, Vinogradov J, Jackson MD, 2016, Temperature dependence of the zeta potential in intact natural carbonates, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, Vol: 43, Pages: 11578-11587, ISSN: 0094-8276

Dilib FA, Jackson MD, Zadeh AM, Aasheim R, Arland K, Gyllensten AJ, Erlandsen SM, et al., 2015, Closed-Loop Feedback Control in Intelligent Wells: Application to a Heterogeneous, Thin Oil-Rim Reservoir in the North Sea, SPE RESERVOIR EVALUATION & ENGINEERING, Vol: 18, Pages: 69-83, ISSN: 1094-6470

Jackson MD, 2015, Tools and Techniques: Self-Potential Methods, Treatise on Geophysics: Second Edition, Pages: 261-293, ISBN: 9780444538031

Vinogradov J, Jackson MD, 2015, Zeta potential in intact natural sandstones at elevated temperatures, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, Vol: 42, Pages: 6287-6294, ISSN: 0094-8276

Leinov E, Jackson MD, 2014, Experimental measurements of the SP response to concentration and temperature gradients in sandstones with application to subsurface geophysical monitoring, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH, Vol: 119, Pages: 6855-6876, ISSN: 2169-9313

Dilib FA, Jackson MD, 2013, Closed-Loop Feedback Control for Production Optimization of Intelligent Wells Under Uncertainty, SPE PRODUCTION & OPERATIONS, Vol: 28, Pages: 345-357, ISSN: 1930-1855

Jackson MD, Gulamali MY, Leinov E, Saunders JH, Vinogradov J, et al., 2012, Spontaneous Potentials in Hydrocarbon Reservoirs During Waterflooding: Application to Water-Front Monitoring, SPE JOURNAL, Vol: 17, Pages: 53-69, ISSN: 1086-055X

Saunders JH, Jackson MD, Gulamali MY, Vinogradov J, Pain CC, et al., 2012, Streaming potentials at hydrocarbon reservoir conditions, GEOPHYSICS, Vol: 77, Pages: E77-E90, ISSN: 0016-8033

Gulamali MY, Leinov E, Jackson MD, 2011, Self-potential anomalies induced by water injection into hydrocarbon reservoirs, Geophysics, Vol: 76, Pages: F283-F292, ISSN: 1942-2156

Jackson MD, Vinogradov J, Saunders JH, Jaafar MZ, et al., 2011, Laboratory Measurements and Numerical Modeling of Streaming Potential for Downhole Monitoring in Intelligent Wells, SPE JOURNAL, Vol: 16, Pages: 625-636, ISSN: 1086-055X

Vinogradov J, Jackson MD, 2011, Multiphase streaming potential in sandstones saturated with gas/brine and oil/brine during drainage and imbibition, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, Vol: 38, ISSN: 0094-8276

Glover PWJ, Jackson MD, 2010, Borehole electrokinetics, Leading Edge (Tulsa, OK), Vol: 29, Pages: 724-728, ISSN: 1070-485X

Saunders JH, Jackson MD, Pain CC, 2008, Fluid flow monitoring in oilfields using downhole measurements of electrokinetic potential, Geophysics, Vol: 73, ISSN: 0016-8033