Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Research Fellow



+44 (0)20 7594 2973w.cao15




Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





Dr Wenzhuo Cao's core research expertise is in the areas of mineral resources, geo-energy, geomechanics, induced seismicity and resource evaluation, and his research has so far concerned the application of geostatistical, geomechanical and hydrogeological principles for and the development of coupled multiphysics modelling approaches to geo-engineering and geo-energy applications. At one end of the spectrum is the charaterisation of ore grade and rock properties, resource evaluation, and mine design and scheduling associated with geo-engineering activities such as hard rock (metalliferous and non-metallic) and soft rock mining, and underground space engineering. At the other end of the spectrum is the geomechanical, hydrological and thermodynamic modelling and risk assessment related to geo-energy applications such as geothermal energy systems, geological carbon storage, aquifer thermal energy storage, and unconventional reservoir exploitation. He has been using both two-way sequential coupled geomechanics and fluid flow modelling and fully coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) modelling to evaluate induced seismic risk associated with geo-energy deployment and mineral resources exploitation. 

He has researched and published on topics such as monitoring and forecasting of induced seismicity, discrete fracture network (DFN)-based microseismicity modelling, coupled hydromechanical modelling, fracture characterisation, hydrofracturing, and fracture behaviour of rocks subjected to saturation/thermal treatment. He also has experience in the application of geostatistical and statistical learning algorithms for fast resource model update, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling of gas emission patterns underground, etc.

He has co-supervised a number of master and PhD student research projects, and has peer reviewed submissions for technical journals, academic conferences and research council grants. He is a member of the ISRM, BGA and ARMA.

Recent Measures of Esteem

- Honours and Awards

  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, International Journal of Mining Science and Technology, 2022
  • Rocha Medal Runner-up Award (Proxime Accessit), International Society for Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering (ISRM), 2021
  • Dr N.G.W. Cook PhD Dissertation Award, American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA), 2021
  • BGA Fund Award, British Geotechnical Association (BGA), 2021
  • ARMA Future Leader, American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA), 2021
  • Excellent Reviewer Award, Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, 2021

- Professional Activities

  • Technical Committee Member, World Geothermal Congress, International Geothermal Association (IGA), 2023
  • Session Chair and Organising Committee Member, CouFrac Conference, 2022
  • Session Chair for Induced Seismicity and High Stress Mining, 56th US Rock Mechanics / Geomechanics Symposium, 2022
  • Session Chair for Rock Mechanics and Geohazards in Mining, 55th US Rock Mechanics / Geomechanics Symposium, 2021 
  • Theme Lead for Thermal Energy and Nuclear Waste Storage, Underground Storage and Utilisation Technical Committee (USUTC), American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA), 2020

- Editorial Activities

  • Youth Editorial Board Member, Transactions of Nonferrous Metals Society of China, 2021-2024
  • Youth Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Mining Science and Technology, 2021-2023
  • Youth Editorial Board Member, Journal of Central South University (English Edition), 2021-2023
  • Academic Editor, Advances in Civil Engineering, 2021-2023
  • Editorial Board Member, Geotechnics, 2021-2022
  • Guest Editor, Research Topic "Mechanisms and Early Warning Strategies of Geotechnical Disasters", Frontiers in Earth Science, 2022
  • Guest Editor, Research Topic "Geomechanics and Induced Seismicity for Underground Energy and Resources Exploitation", Frontiers in Earth Science, 2021
  • Guest Editor, Special Issue "Understanding and Control of Rockbursts", Lithosphere, 2021

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Cao W, Durucan S, Cai W, et al., Probabilistic evaluation of susceptibility to fluid injection-induced seismicity based on statistics of fracture criticality, Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, ISSN:0723-2632

Cao W, Durucan S, Shi J-Q, et al., 2022, Induced seismicity associated with geothermal fluids re-injection: Poroelastic stressing, thermoelastic stressing, or transient cooling-induced permeability enhancement?, Geothermics, Vol:102, ISSN:0375-6505, Pages:1-18

Cao W, Verdon J, Ming T, 2022, Coupled poroelastic modelling of hydraulic fracturing-induced seismicity: Implications for understanding the post shut-in ML 2.9 earthquake at the Preston New Road, UK, Journal of Geophysical Research. Solid Earth, Vol:127, ISSN:2169-9356, Pages:1-24

Cao W, Lei Q, Cai W, 2021, Stress-Dependent Deformation and Permeability of a Fractured Coal Subject to Excavation-Related Loading Paths, Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, Vol:54, ISSN:0723-2632, Pages:4299-4320

Cao W, Shi J-Q, Durucan S, et al., 2021, Evaluation of shear slip stress transfer mechanism for induced microseismicity at In Salah CO2 storage site, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, Vol:107, ISSN:1750-5836, Pages:1-20

Cao W, Durucan S, Cai W, et al., 2020, A physics-based probabilistic forecasting methodology for hazardous microseismicity associated with longwall coal mining, International Journal of Coal Geology, Vol:232, ISSN:0166-5162, Pages:1-14

Cao W, Yildirim B, Durucan S, et al., 2021, Fracture behaviour and seismic response of naturally fractured coal subjected to true triaxial stresses and hydraulic fracturing, Fuel, Vol:288, ISSN:0016-2361, Pages:1-15

Cao W, Durucan S, Cai W, et al., 2020, The role of mining intensity and pre-existing fracture attributes on spatial, temporal and magnitude characteristics of microseismicity in longwall coal mining, Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, Vol:53, ISSN:0723-2632, Pages:4139-4162

Cao W, Shi J-Q, Durucan S, et al., 2020, Gas-driven rapid fracture propagation under unloading conditions in coal and gas outbursts, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Vol:130, ISSN:1365-1609

Cao W, Shi J-Q, Durucan S, et al., 2019, Numerical modelling of anomalous microseismicity influenced by lithological heterogeneity in longwall top coal caving mining, International Journal of Coal Geology, Vol:216, ISSN:0166-5162

Cao W, Lei Q, 2018, Influence of landscape coverage on measuring spatial and length properties of rock fracture networks: insights from numerical simulation, Pure and Applied Geophysics, Vol:175, ISSN:0033-4553, Pages:2167-2179

Cao W, Shi J, Si G, et al., 2018, Numerical modelling of microseismicity associated with longwall coal mining, International Journal of Coal Geology, Vol:193, ISSN:0166-5162, Pages:30-45

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