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Geological characterisation of chalk hard grounds in the North Sea


Project Description

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in June 2019.

The PhD will be based in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and will be supervised by Professor Andy Gale and Dr Nick Koor.

The work on this project will:
-develop a predictive model for chalk hard grounds in the North Sea
-require a multi disciplined approach using biostratigraphy and chemostratigraphy,, petrography, micro-analysis, and structural analysis.
- include possible 3 month placement with the industrial sponsor in Norway.



Project description

The University of Portsmouth has been carrying out applied geoscience research for over 50 years and is an international leader in chalk biostratigraphy through Professor Andy Gale. This project will utilize our state of the art in house equipment and expertise to characterise the nature, lateral and vertical extent, causes of, and predictability of hardening in levels of the Valhall and Hod Chalk reservoir and where these hardening levels are fractured (fractured hard grounds). The fractured hard grounds give rise to significantly increased production by fracture flow but also cause problems for drilling and production/injection because they set up large pressure differentials and short circuit injected water.


The aim of this project is to develop a predictive model for chalk hard grounds in the North Sea. This model will be integrated into the funders full field model. To achieve this aim will require a multi disciplined approach using lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, carbon isotope analysis, geochemistry, petrography, micro-analysis, and structural analysis. A scoping study has already been completed and this will form the literature review for this phase of work. It is likely that the project will follow a phased approach: reassessment of the existing biostratigraphy for the Valhall and Hod chalk reservoir cores and integrate with existing work on lithology and lithostratigraphy; the characterisation of selected hardgrounds both from petrographic and geochemical perspectives; understanding of the role of the structure in hardground formation and the lateral persistence of hardgrounds.

You’ll be working in a dedicated project team with academic leadership by Professor Andy Gale. Professor Andy Gale will have technical oversight of the project but your line manager on a daily basis will be a highly qualified senior research fellow. You’ll be required to travel to Norway to inspect and log chalk core. You might also spend up to three months with the client on placement to gain key industrial experience.


Entry Requirements

General admissions criteria
You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum second class
or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an Earth Science discipline or relevant subject area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements
You should be a highly motivated earth science graduate, keen to work on a multi disciplined project with an industrial partner.

How to Apply
We’d encourage you to contact Dr Nick Koor () to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form and select ‘Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences’ as the subject area. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.


If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SEES4910319 when applying.

Interview date: TBC Start date: June 2019

Funding Notes

The bursary (subject to funding) is available to UK and EU students only and covers tuition fees, an annual maintenance grant in line with the RCUK rate (£14,777 for 2018/19) and researcher laboratory expenses for three years.

Related Subjects

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