Imperial College London

Professor of Rock Mechanics

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Chair in Rock Mechanics



+44 (0)20 7594 7412r.w.zimmerman




2.38DRoyal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





Prof. Zimmerman conducts research on the hydromechanical behaviour of fractured and porous rocks, petrophysics, fluid flow in porous media, rock failure and fracture, and on the relationship between microstructure and the physical properties of heterogeneous materials, with applications to petroleum engineering, underground mining, radioactive waste disposal, and subsurface carbon sequestration.

Prof. Zimmerman's research has been funded by, among others, BP, Chevron, Halliburton, Norsk Hydro, Rio Tinto, Schlumberger, Shell, EPSRC, NERC, NDA, and the European Commission. He has been a PI on the US Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain radioactive waste repository project, and was the principal investigator on the 3M-euro THERESA project, funded by the European Commission Euratom Program, the Rock Fracture and Fragmentation Project within the Rio Tinto Centre for Advanced Mineral Recovery, and the multi-university NERC-funded HydroFrame project, "Hydromechanical and Biogeochemical Processes in Fractured Rock Masses in the Vicinity of a Geological Disposal Facility for Radioactive Waste".


show research

Compressibility of Sandstones, R. W. Zimmerman, Elsevier, 1991.

Fundamentals of Rock Mechanics, 4th edition, J. C. Jaeger, N. G. W. Cook, and R. W. ZImmerman, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.

Fluid Flow in Porous Media, World Scientific, 2018.


Saeed Salimzadeh, Technical University of Denmark, geomechanics applied to carbon sequestration, geothermal energy, hydraulic fracturing, 2016

Dr. Simon Mathias, Durham University, carbon sequestration

Professor Nick Buenfeld, Imperial College, concrete technology

Dr. Alessandro De Vita, King's College London, atomistic modelling of fracture

Prof. Adel Al-Ajmi, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, wellbore stability

Guest Lectures

Modelling of primary fragmentation in block caving mines using a finite-element based fracture mechanics approach, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2016

The effects of pore structure, pore fluid, stress, and frequency on elastic wavespeeds in sandstones, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA, 2015

The role of the intermediate principal stress in petroleum geomechanics, Society of Petroleum Engineers, London, UK, 2015

The past, present and future of rock mechanics, American Rock Mechanics Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2014

Measurement and modelling of the failure of shale under triaxial stress, University College London, London, UK, 2014

Measurement and modelling of the failure of anisotropic rocks such as shales, Comité Français de Mécanique des Roches, Paris, France, 2013

The effect of pore shape and pore fluid on the Poisson ratio of porous materials, 5th Biot Conference on Poromechanics, Vienna, Austria, 2013

Some new developments in modelling the failure, fracture and fragmentation of rocks, 7th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium, Seoul, South Korea, 2012

Effective elastic moduli of solids containing spheroidal pores, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., 2011

Elastic moduli of solids containing spheroidal pores, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 2011

Some rock mechanics issues in petroleum engineering, European Rock Mechanics Symposium, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2010

Relationship between permeability, elastic moduli and pore structure in porous geological media, Fall Annual Meeting American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, 2007

Estimating the elastic moduli and permeability of porous rocks using two-dimensional pore space images, SIAM Conference on Mathematical and Computational Issues in Geosciences, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2007

Fluid flow in rock fractures, and Fundamentals of poroelasticity, Chinese Academy of Sciences and eight Chinese Universities, Beijing, Xi'an, Wuhan, Shandong, 2006

Research Staff




Research Student Supervision

Ambrose,J, True-triaxial failure criteria for anisotropic rocks

Defoort,T, Numerical Modelling of the Fracture and Fragmentation of Rock by a PDC Cutter

Lacey,H, Exploring fracturing and cementation triggered by earthquakes

Schofield,J, Semi-analytical models for flow processes in shale gas reservoirs

Setiawan,IGNB, Wellbore Stability in Anisotropic Formations

Singh,G, Fracture Propagation in Brittle Materials

Tang,XH, Numerical Modelling of Rock Fracture and Fragmentation

Thomas,R, Hydraulic transmissivity of fracture networks generated through geomechanical fracture-growth simulations