Imperial College London

ESE November Newsletter


Paulina, Diego and Izzy admiring one of the open pits at Rio Tinto

ESE at Rio Tinto

An overview of the recent publications, events and exciting work that's been happening in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering.


Conferences, Lectures and Seminars
Research Grants
Research Activity
Impact and Media
Workshops and Courses
PhD Vivas
New Staff
Alumni News


Bastow, I. D., Booth, A. D., Corti, G., Keir, D., Magee, C., Jackson, C. A.-L., et al. (2018). The development of late-stage continental breakup: Seismic reflection and borehole evidence from the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia. Tectonics, 37, 2848–2862.

Brito-Parada, P.R., Dewes, R.M., Vega-Garcia, D. & Cilliers, J.J. (2018). The influence of design parameters on the separation of biomass in mini-hydrocyclones. Chemical Engineering & Technology. DOI: 10.1002/ceat.201800290

Hutahaean, J., Cilliers, J.J. & Brito-Parada, P.R. (2018). A multi-criteria decision framework for the selection of biomass separation equipment. Chemical Engineering & Technology. DOI: 10.1002/ceat.201800287

Jacquemyn, C., Jackson, M.D. & Hampson, G.J. (2018) Surface-Based Geological Reservoir Modelling Using Grid-Free NURBS Curves and Surfaces. Mathematical Geosciences, DOI:10.1007/s11004-018-9764-8

Karmakar, G.P., Grattoni, C.A., & Zimmerman, R.W. (2018). An oil-based gel system for reservoir rock permeability modification. Adv. Maters. Process. Tech., 4, 669-674.

Kirby, M.E., Simperler, A., Krevor, S., Weiss, D.J., & Sonnenberg, J.L. (2018). Computational Tools for Calculating log β Values of Geochemically Relevant Uranium Organometallic Complexes. Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 122 (40), 8007–8019. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.8b06863.

Liddell, M. V., Bastow, I., Rawlinson, N., Darbyshire, F., Gilligan, A., & Watson, E. (2018). Precambrian plate tectonics in Northern Hudson Bay: Evidence from P and S wave seismic tomography and analysis of source side effects in relative arrival?time data sets. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 123, 5690-5709.

Mesa, D. & Brito-Parada, P. R. (2019). Scale-up in froth flotation: A state-of-the-art-review. Separation and Purification Technology, 210, 950–962.DOI: 10.1016/j.seppur.2018.08.076

Scanziani, A., Singh, K., Bultreys, T., Bijeljic, B., and Blunt, M.J. (2018). In situ characterization of immiscible three-phase flow at the pore scale for a water-wet carbonate rock. Advances in Water Resources, 121, 446-455.

Singh, K., Anabaraonye, B., Blunt, M.J., and Crawshaw, J. (2018). Partial dissolution of carbonate rock grains during reactive CO2-saturated brine injection under reservoir conditions. Advances in Water Resources, 122, 27-36.

Thomas, R.N., Paluszny, A., Hambley, D., Hawthorne, F. M., Zimmerman, R.W. (2018). Permeability of observed three dimensional fracture networks in spent fuel pins. J. Nucl. Maters., 510, 613-632.

Xu, X., Upchurch, P., Mannion, P. D., Barrett, P. M., Regalado-Fernandez, O. R., Mo, J., Ma, J. & Liu, H. (2018). A new Middle Jurassic diplodocoid suggests an earlier dispersal and diversification of sauropod dinosaurs. Nature Communications, 9, 2700. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05128-1

Conference Talks, Lectures, Seminars

Ore Deposits

Jamie Wilkinson giving a talk at the Gordon Research Conference

In August, a group of LODE  (London Centre for Ore Deposits and Exploration) researchers attended the biennial Gordon Research Conference on the Geochemistry of Ore Deposits in Waterville, New Hampshire, USA. Jamie Wilkinson presented a keynote talk entitled "The origin of propylitic alteration in porphyry systems and navigating in porphyry-epithermal space using propylitic mineral chemistry" which included major outcomes from the ESE PhD studies of Adam Pacey, Jacob Longridge and Lisa Hart that challenge the existing paradigm of how the broad alteration haloes around porphyry ore deposits develop. ESE PhD student Emily Brugge, former PhD student Matthew Loader and LODE PDRA Simon Large also presented posters on their work investigating the chemistry of magmatic and hydrothermal minerals associated with porphyry copper deposits.

Jamie Wilkinson and new LODE PhD student Chetan Nathwani attended the Society of Economic Geologists' flagship biennial meeting at Keystone, Colorado, USA, from 23rd to 26th September. Jamie presented a 5-minute speed talk outlining the objectives of the NERC Highlight Topic award "FAMOS" (From Arc Magmas to Ores) and Chetan presented a poster based on his MSci project which investigated igneous apatite chemistry from volcanic rocks in Central Chile.

From 25th to 28th September, Jamie Wilkinson and NHM postdoc Matthew Loader presented results of an ongoing study on igneous mineral chemistry from porphyry ore systems to project sponsors Quantum Pacific Exploration, in Santiago, Chile. This was the third 6-monthly report on project progress, with the main outcomes also being reported to the NERC FAMOS project consortium.


PhD student Jonathan Rio presenting at the SVP conferencePhil Mannion and PhD students Ale Chiarenza and Jonathan Rio attended the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP), held this year in Albuquerque, New Mexico (17–20 October). In addition to lunch at Los Pollos Hermanos, and resisting throwing pizza on Walter White’s house, Phil and Ale both gave talks on the K/Pg mass extinction, whilst Jonathan presented a poster on an extinct alligator relative that roamed the UK 40 million years ago.


Dick Selley gave a lecture on shale gas & oil to the Petroleum Exploration Society of GB.

Kamal Singh was an invited speaker and gave a range of talks outlining his research at the following events: the Interpore 10th Annual Meeting and Jubilee Conference 2018 held in New Orleans, USA; at the Imaging the Microstructure of Reservoir Rocks in 3D and 4D Workshop, 80th EAGE conference & Exhibition 2018, Copenhagen, Denmark, and in Brazil at the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Source (LNLS) on 25 July 2018, Petrobras/CENPES on 26 July 2018 and IBM Research Centre on 27 July 2018.


chris jacksonChris Jackson gave a department seminar at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Plymouth (19th October). He talked about his recent filming experiences at some of the worlds most celebrated volcanoes, including Nyriagongo, Stromboli, and Vesuvius.


PhD student Ngurah Beni Setiawan presented a paper, co-authored with Robert Zimmerman, entitled “Drilling risk identification through anisotropic geomechanical modelling”, at the International Conference on Oil & Gas Engineering and Technology (ICOGET 2018) in Kuala Lumpur on 13th August. After the conference, Beni presented his research at several oil companies, including Pertamina, Schlumberger, and MEDCO.

PhD student Robin Thomas visited the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB) and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, on 4th-5th October, and gave a talk entitled “Geomechanical discrete fracture modelling: 3D growth and coupled processes”, describing some of the research that he has been doing with Adriana Paluszny and Robert Zimmerman as part of the NERC-funded HydroFrame project.

Minerals processing

The International Minerals Processing Congress (IMPC) is organised every two years in different countries across the world and this year it was held in Moscow. It continues to be the biggest and most important conference in minerals processing, with normally more than a thousand attendees. The Advanced Mineral Processing Research Group (AMPRG) had four oral presentations and one poster. Presentations from Izzy Mackay, Diego Mesa, Dennis Vega and Francisco (Pancho) Reyes were well received with lots of follow-up questions during the coffee brakes. In addition, Jan Cilliers presented at the Education Workshop and Pablo Brito-Parada at a workshop that focused on the Grand Challenges of Mineral Processing.

  • Advanced Mineral Processing Research Group  at Dinner

    From left to right: Pablo, Leonor, Stephen, Pancho, Dennis, Diego and Izzy

  • Advanced Mineral Processing Research Group  at Dinner

    Pancho, Dennis, Izzy, Diego and Jaakko (Outotec) enjoying themselves

During the conference banquet Pancho was awarded the “Young Author Award”, a prize the organising committee gives away to the best ten pieces of work from young authors. Earlier that day it was also announced that Pablo Brito-Parada was elected as new member of the Council. Congrats to both!

  • Pancho presenting

    Pancho presenting

  • Diego presenting

    Diego presenting

  • Dennis presenting

    Dennis presenting

  • Izzy answering questions after her presentation

    Izzy answering questions after her presentation


2019 rocha medal

Congratulations to Dr Qinghua Lei (ESE alumnus), who was selected by the International Society for Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering (ISRM) as the winner of the 2019 Rocha Medal.

Dr Lei conducted his PhD research on the “Characterisation and modelling of natural fracture networks: geometry, geomechanics and fluid flow” under the supervision of Dr John-Paul Latham and Dr Jiansheng Xiang.

Dr. Qinghua Lei with his PhD supervisors: (left) with Dr. John-Paul Latham; (right) with Dr. Jiansheng Xiang

john archer award and janet watson prize

On 10 October we announced winners of postgraduate prizes at a special evening reception. Congratulations to Lukas Mosser, Oscar Calderon-Agudo and Stephen Watkins. Read about the awards, winners and reception.

Research Grants

Ian Bastow and his US-based collaborators in Montana and New Orleans have been awarded a $1M grant by NERC and the US National Science Foundation to study rifting in southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya.  As part of this project, the Turkana Rift Arrays Investigating Lithospheric Seismology (TRAILS), Ian will be building earthquake monitoring stations in the Lake Turkana region in January 2019.  The work will also be supported by a recently-awarded £100k Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which will support investment in earthquake monitoring infrastructure and research capability of the Universities of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Nairobi (Kenya).

Ian has also won a £800 grant from the Royal Astronomical Society for his ongoing research and outreach in Cyprus.

Research Activity

Kamal Singh’s work on imaging the dynamics of multiphase flow in carbonate rocks is showcased in the Diamond Light Source 2017/18 Annual Review (in which the highlights of scientific research conducted during the academic year 2017/18 are presented).

Impact and Media

The Planets 2018

ESE staff Dr Philippa Mason and Prof Sanjeev Gupta have mentored musicians to create new works inspired by our Solar System, based on Holst’s The Planets. Find out more on Sound UK, or read about it in the Guardian.

Workshops and Courses

Dick Selley participated in a workshop on the Newdigate earthquakes organised by the Oil & Gas Authority.

Prof Dominik Weiss and Jay Bullen were in West Bengal during October to present at a workshop entitled 'Towards a new generation of arsenic treatment plants in India.' The workshop was organised jointly by Prof Weiss and Swachchha Majumdar from the CSIR-Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute in Kolkata, and funded by British Council India and the Newton Bhabha Fund. In this workshop participants discussed the public health crisis surrounding arsenic contaminated waters, including future strategies to overcome the current challenges in providing safe drinking water.


Following their workshop on a new generation of arsenic treatment plants in India, Jay Bullen and Dominik Weiss spent three days conducting field work, cross-calibrating two new speciation techniques for determining the distribution of arsenic between +3 and +5 oxidation states. The first was a novel chemosorbent resin developed at Imperial College, for use as a syringe filter device. The second was Anodic Stripping Voltammetry with a gold microwire electrode, an electrochemical technique, with sub-ppb detection limits, following upon work by Dr Pascal Salaün and his group at the University of Liverpool.

  • Jay Bullen and Dominik Weiss doing fieldwork in India

    Jay Bullen and Dominik Weiss doing fieldwork in India

  • Jay Bullen and Dominik Weiss doing fieldwork in India

    Jay Bullen and Dominik Weiss doing fieldwork in India

  • Jay Bullen and Dominik Weiss doing fieldwork in India

    Jay Bullen and Dominik Weiss doing fieldwork in India

In June, Diego Mesa, Angus Morrison and Pablo Brito-Parada from the Advanced Mineral Processing Research Group (AMPRG) carried out industrial test work at the Riotinto concentrator (Atalaya Mining at Minas de Riotinto, Huelva, Spain), as part of a research project with Outotec to optimise froth flotation performance.

In early October, Izzy Mackay, Paulina Quintanilla, Diego Mesa and Pablo Brito-Parada went back to Riotinto to obtain new measurements and perform further optimisation work.

  • Diego, Pablo, Rodrigo (Outotec), Jaakko (Outotec), David (Atalaya Mining) and Angus

    Diego, Pablo, Rodrigo (Outotec), Jaakko (Outotec), David (Atalaya Mining) and Angus

  • Jaakko (Outotec), Diego, Izzy, Pablo and Paulina

    Jaakko (Outotec), Diego, Izzy, Pablo and Paulina

  • Paulina, Diego and Izzy admiring one of the open pits at Riotinto

In collaboration with colleagues from Portugal, Spain, and France, Phil Mannion initiated a new palaeontological fieldwork program in the Paleogene of Portugal, as part of a Royal Society grant. A short reconnaissance trip yielded fossils of mammals, crocodiles, birds, turtles and fish from an approximately 55 million year old site. A longer trip is planned for Spring 2019.

Imperial SEG Chapter inside the pit at Otjikoto gold mineThe Imperial Student Chapter of the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) ran a trip to Namibia on the 2nd to 13th September. The field trip was attended by six Imperial students (Emily Brugge, Jonathan Coad, Jordan Griffiths, Chetan Nathwani, George Nicholas and Jay Ward), two external students, five industry geologists and one academic. The trip visited nine mineral deposits across Central and Western Namibia of different commodities and stages in development. Student attendance at a highly subsidised rate was possible due to generous funding from society grants and industry. 

Kamal Singh had the great opportunity to visit the newly-built fourth generation synchrotron light source in Campinas, Brazil and learn about ultrafast three-dimensional imaging at the nano- to micro-meter scale, particularly useful for investigating the dynamics of multiphase fluid flow in rocks at reservoir conditions.

Kamal Singh at the synchrotron light source in Campinas, Brazil

PhD Vivas

Alistair Boyce and Mitch Liddell, PhD students supervised by Ian Bastow, both passed their PhD vivas with minor corrections and have both now taken up post docs at the Universities of Cambridge and Alberta, respectively.  Congratulations Drs. Boyce and Liddell!

Congratulations to (Dr!) Alex Coleman of the Basins Research Group (BRG), who successfully passed his viva with no corrections (4th October). Alex’s PhD, which was co-supervised by Chris Jackson and Oliver Duffy (UT Austin) was entitled ‘Extensional Strain in Salt-Influenced Basins’.

New Staff

Mr Jack Ashley – Started on the 28th September as a Research Assistant working with Professor Joanna Morgan

Mr Francisco Reyes-Leiva – Started on the 1st October as a Research Assistant working with Professor Stephen Neethling

Dr Wu Cai – Started on the 1st October as a Research Associate working with Professor Sevket Durucan

Mr Asiri Obeysekara – Started on the 9th October as a Research Assistant working with Professor Christopher Pain

Mr Harshit Agrawal – Started on the 23rd October as a Research Assistant working with Professor Sevket Durucan

Mr Bowen Song – Started on the 24th October as a Research Assistant working with Professor Nigel Brandon

Mr Geoffrey Hemsley – Started on the 29th October as a Reprographics Technician for ESE

Mr Dennis Vega Garcia – Started on the 1st November as a Research Assistant working with Dr Pablo Brito-Parada

Alumni News

A number of alumni visited the RSM recently representing BP, to present career opportunities to our students.


Miss Cristina Saceanu

Miss Cristina Saceanu
Department of Earth Science & Engineering

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