Imperial College London

Emeritus ProfessorLidiaLonergan

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Emeritus Reader of Geotectonics



+44 (0)20 7594 6465l.lonergan Website




3.48Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





I am a structural geologist that works across all scales of structural geology from fracturing and fluid flow to continental plate tectonics. In addition, I have a breadth of geological knowledge that allows me to identify interdisciplinary research problems as shown by the notable contributions I have made in the fields of Quaternary science/glaciology, sedimentology, geomorphology, and petroleum geology. I have co-authored papers with 16 current/former members of academic staff in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering including geophysicists, petroleum engineers and sedimentologists, whose specialism is outside my own discipline. In the late 1990s with J. Cartwright I established the first academic research group in the world to use oil-industry 3D seismic data to solve academic and applied problems.Examples of research topics on which I have published are listed below in the Research Interests section. I continue to research and publish on several of them.


  • Reader (Associate Professor)  in Geotectonics, Imperial College, 2002-2023
  • Royal Society University Research Fellow, Imperial College, 1996-2003
  • Fina Lecturer in Petroleum Structural Geology, Imperial College, 1994-1996
  • Research Geologist, Shell Research, Rijswijk, The Netherlands, 1992-1994
  • D.Phil. Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford University, 1988-1991
  • Research sabbatical, BP Exploration, 2006-2008
  • Visiting Scholar, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, California, 1999-2000
  • First Virtual Remote Field Trip taught at Imperial College 2020 during the Covid Pandemic;

Research Interests

  • Fracturing, fluid flow and digital mapping
  • Gravity driven deformation and related sedimentary systems in deep water slope environments.
  • Shale tectonics  and fold growth in Caspian Sea
  • Salt Tectonics- onshore analogues, western Alps
  • Formation of the South Atlantic passive margin
  • Formation of Sichuan Basin, China
  • Deformation in sedimentary basins: insights from 3D seismic interpretation.
  • Development of polygonal fault systems in mudrocks and the link with compaction and fluid  flow in sedimentary basins.
  • Quaternary ice-sheets extents on the continental shelf of NW Europe; subglacial tunnel valleys.
  • Sand remobilization and injection (clastic intrusion)

More information here


If you are interested in learning more about the scenery and geology of Italy -take a look at Lidia's talk at the Imperial Festival May 2016.

I also do geology workshops for schools, both at primary and secondary level

Talk in Italian on "Vene e fossili: la storia geological della scogliere Zoagliese" which introduces you to some spectacular rocks of the Ligurian Apennines; August 2023

Invited Lectures and Presentations

  • Invited oral presentation "Seismic attributes and their use in interpreting structural and sedimentological relationships in sedimentary basins at SEISMIX 2016; Seismology at the cross-roads; Scotland, May 2016
  • Invited lecture on “The Geology and Scenery of Italy: The Role of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonic Plates”  in the XIII Settimana della Lingua Italiana nel Mondo: “Research, Discovery, Innovation: Italy of Knowledge” series; Italian Cultural Institute, Dublin, Ireland; 14-20 October 2013.
  • Invited oral presentation British Geophysical Association Annual Meeting- on Geophysics in Future Energy Challenges;  February 2013: "Advances in understanding 'deepwater' salt and shale dominated passive margins and the hydrocarbon challenges'.
  • Invited lecture to British Italian Society, London, September 2012: "Geology and Scenery: 100 Million years of Italian History".
  • Invited Oral Presentation in  INQUA 2011 session 88 "The British-Irish Ice Sheet: recent advances from terrestrial and marine investigations".
  • Keynote presentation AAPG Hedberg conference "Deepwater fold and thrust belts"; Italy October 2009.
  • AAPG North America Distinguished Lecturer Tour 4-15 November 2002.
    Talks given at University of California, Davis; University of Colorado, Boulder; Four Corners Geological Society, New Mexico; Forth Worth Geological Society, Texas; Montana Geological Society; University of Oklahoma, University of Missouri, Rolla; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
  • Geoscience 98, Symposia on Dynamics of Subduction and Orogensis, Keele April 1998.
  • GSA Penrose Conference, 1999. Mid-Cretaceous to Recent Plate Boundary Processes in the SW Pacific, New Zealand; March 1999.
  • GSSEPM “Deepwater reservoirs of the world”, December 2000, Houston, Texas.
  • Force Seminar on Polygonal Faults and Sand Injection; Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, Stavanger Norway 22 October 2002.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Pizzi M, Whittaker AC, Mayall M, et al., 2023, Structural controls on the pathways and sedimentary architecture of submarine channels: New constraints from the Niger Delta, Basin Research, Vol:35, ISSN:0950-091X, Pages:141-171

Galindo PA, Lonergan L, 2021, Sigmoidal normal faults and evidence for vertical-axis block rotation in an oblique convergent margin: a 3D seismic example from offshore Colombia, The Leading Edge, Vol:40, ISSN:1070-485X, Pages:923-930

Pizzi M, Whittaker AC, Lonergan L, et al., 2021, New statistical quantification of the impact of active deformation on the distribution of submarine channels, Geology, Vol:49, ISSN:0091-7613, Pages:926-930

Gu Z, Lonergan L, Zhai X, et al., 2021, The formation of the Sichuan Basin, South China, during the Late Ediacaran to Early Cambrian, Basin Research, Vol:33, ISSN:0950-091X, Pages:2328-2357

Mitchell WH, Whittaker AC, Mayall M, et al., 2021, Quantifying the relationship between structural deformation and the morphology of submarine channels on the Niger Delta continental slope, Basin Research, Vol:33, ISSN:0950-091X, Pages:186-209

Pizzi M, Lonergan L, Whittaker AC, et al., 2020, Growth of a thrust fault array in space and time: An example from the deep-water Niger delta, Journal of Structural Geology, Vol:137, ISSN:0191-8141, Pages:1-20

Galindo PA, Lonergan L, 2020, Basin evolution and shale tectonics on an obliquely convergent margin: the Bahia Basin, offshore Colombian Caribbean, Tectonics, Vol:39, ISSN:0278-7407, Pages:1-32

McDermott C, Collier JS, Lonergan L, et al., 2019, Seismic velocity structure of seaward-dipping reflectors on the South American continental margin, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol:521, ISSN:0012-821X, Pages:14-24

Doughty-Jones G, Lonergan L, Mayall M, et al., 2019, The role of structural growth in controlling the facies and distribution of mass transport deposits in a deep-water salt minibasin, Marine and Petroleum Geology, Vol:104, ISSN:0264-8172, Pages:106-124

McDermott C, Lonergan L, Collier JS, et al., 2018, Characterization of seaward-dipping reflectors along the South American Atlantic Margin and implications for continental breakup, Tectonics, Vol:37, ISSN:0278-7407, Pages:3303-3327


Procter A, Roberts DT, Lonergan L, et al., 2023, Investigating the effect of sediment loading on the growth of a shale-cored anticline using finite element modelling, 57th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium, ARMA

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