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The fracture properties of shales, how impermeable are reservoir seals for CO2 storage?

   Graduate School, College of Physical Sciences

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  Dr C Bond  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Storage of CO2 in geological formations is part of the UK’s carbon mitigation strategy to meet 2050 targets. Carbon mitigation through geological storage of carbon dioxide is dependent on rock formations storing CO2 effectively. Reservoir data and field evidence show that fracture networks often act as pathways for fluid movement. Seals for petroleum reservoirs often rely on a layer of ‘impermeable’ shale forming a barrier to upward migration. Assuming that these seals will remain intact during injection of super critical CO2 is untested. Unconventional resource exploitation (e.g. Slatt, 2011) provides a good analogue for fluid pressure induced fracturing of shale sequences. Taking lessons from shale-gas studies this studentship will investigate how fractures propagate through shale multi-layers (e.g. Ladeira and Price, 1981) such as those found in hydrocarbon reservoir seals, under the elevated fluid pressure conditions of CO2 injection.

1) The range of bed thicknesses and bed cycles that determine fracture spacings and densities.
2) The sensitivity of lithological composition in determining fracture potential.
3) The role of shale anisotropy/bed orientation in relation to stress on fracture distributions and attributes.
4) The impact of elevated fluid pressures on fracture creation.

Geological trapping of CO2 is seen as effective, in terms of the volumes of potential storage, but as having a high storage risk (IPCC, 2005). The studentship will provide evidence to better characterise the storage integrity of geological traps, through investigation of fracture propagation.

Outcrop analysis – the student will work at several outcrop localities to log sequences, fracture distributions/properties, and to collect samples for analysis.
Modelling – the student will use a combination of modeling strategies, utilizing commercially available software and help to extend models developed at the University to investigate the development of fractures in shales.

This project will suit a numerate individual with a degree in Engineering, Geology, Geophysics or Physics.

The other supervisor on the project is Dr Christine Sands, School of Engineering, University of Aberdeen. The start date of the project is 1 October 2013.

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover Tuition Fees at UK/EU rates which for 2013/2014 will be £3,600. A stipend will be paid at Research Council Rates which for 2013/2014 is £13,726, this will be paid monthly in arrears. The studenthship is for 3.5 years full-time.

Applications from International applicants are welcomed providing they can confirm they can meet the difference between UK/EU and International Tuition fees from their own resources, for the duration of study. For 2013/2014 the difference will be £11,400.


IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage, 2005. Eds: Mertz, B., Davidson, O., de Coninck, H., Loos, M., Meyer, L., Cambridge University Press.
Ladeira, F.L., and Price, N.J., (1981). Relationship between fracture spacing and bed thickness. Journal of Structural Geology. 3, 179-183.
Slatt, R.M. (2011). Important Geological Properties of Unconventional Resource Shales. Central European Journal of Geosciencees. 3, 435-448. doi: 10.2478/s13533-011-0042-2

Application Procedure:
Formal applications can be completed online: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply. You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geology, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please note that you should apply at least 4 days before the deadline to allow us to contact you for further information, if required. All applications up to, and including, the closing date will be processed. Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Clare Bond with a copy of your current CV. Email: clare.bond@abdn.ac.uk). All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit (cpsgrad@abdn.ac.uk)
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