Petrophysics and Geomechanics

Petrophysics and Geomechanics are allied disciplines which study the physical and mechanical properties of earth materials. We depend upon the properties of the rocks on which we stand to build structures and on their ability to contain heat for geothermal resources.

It is in our interest to understand the processes that lead to earthquakes and the way the earthquake energy travels through rocks. Modern life depends upon the ability of some rocks to contain and flow fluids such as oil or gas, or to entrap fluids for long-term storage of waste materials in underground storage. For this reason it is important to understand how the microstructures of rocks affects their physical and mechanical properties.

We study the mechanical, electrical, thermal, fluid flow, and sonic properties of rocks. All of these properties are interrelated and all depend upon the fact that the rock itself is a porous medium, consisting of a solid matrix of varying composition with a complex microstructure and an equally complex interconnected pore space that can contain different types of fluid. Changes in the compositions of the matrix and the fluids as well as in the microstructure all define the different properties of rocks, from the soft chalks, to the porous reservoirs that contain oil and gas, to the hardest rocks from which we can build structures that last for millennia.

We work on widespread challenges such as optimising existing hydrocarbon resources while developing new ones in an environmentally sensitive manner, the monitoring and remediation of groundwater pollution, safe waste material storage and the provision of sufficient, safe water supplies for our populations.

Research in the Petrophysics and Geomechanics group occurs in three laboratories: the Wolfson Multiphase Flow Laboratory, the University of Leeds Petrophysics Laboratory, and RMEGG (Rock Mechanics, Engineering Geology and Geotechnical Laboratory).

Further information

View all members of our research group, our recent projects and publications.

PhD projects

We have opportunities for prospective PhD students. Find out more.

Petrophysics

Petrophysics is the study of the physics of rocks and is particularly interested in how the microstructures of these porous media affect their mechanical, electrical, thermal, fluid flow and sonic properties.We concentrate on five principal areas of research in the University of Leeds Petrophysics Laboratory:

The electrical properties of rocks. Our expertise is in modelling and developing fundamental theory in this area. Recent breakthroughs have included the generalisation of Archie’s law and the unification of the cementation and saturation experiments, the measurements of the most accurate steady-state electrokinetic measurements and the development of methodologies for measuring frequency dependent streaming potential coefficients. These techniques help us develop methods for imaging the subsurface remotely.

Nanoparticle-based enhanced oil recovery. We collaborate with the School of Chemical and Process Engineering to study how production from existing reservoirs can be significantly improved by using nanoparticles to mobilise the remaining oil by modifying the internal characteristics of the reservoir. These techniques have the potential for making existing hydrocarbon resources last at least 20% longer and result in a significant mitigation of environmental damage.

The microstructural and flow properties of gas shales. This new project, in collaboration with the School of Chemical and Process Engineering and UK-based hydrocarbon companies studies the interplay between prostate, connectivity and fluid flow involved in the production of gas from very low permeability shales through fractures. Experimental measurements and modelling are being undertaken to discover methods for the optimisation of gas production.

Carbonate petrophysics. Over half of the world’s hydrocarbon resources are in carbonate reservoirs, and many of these are of low permeability. This project is concerned with the understanding of the microstructures of carbonate reservoirs and the processes involved in their creation, as well as linking those microstructures to judgements of reservoir quality for the improvement of hydrocarbon production. Research is highly experimental, but has also resulted in new methods for predicting fluid flow in tight carbonate reservoirs.

Advanced fractal reservoir modelling. This research explores the new idea that reservoir models based on fractal mathematics might improve on conventional reservoir modelling approaches. We have successfully achieved a full reservoir modelling approach with this new method.Our facilities include research grade porosimeter and permeameter, an apparatus for measuring the steady-state streaming potential coefficients of rock cores, apparatuses for measuring both the steady-state and frequency-dependent streaming potential of rock cores and unconsolidated aggregates, and an impedance spectrometer. The advanced nature of the experimental measurements carried out in petrophysics laboratory has required that most of the laboratory equipment has been designed and built in-house to exacting standards.

Research staff currently associated with the petrophysics lab include Professor Paul Glover, together with two other faculty members, several postdoctoral researchers, and associated lecturer visiting from China and a group of PhD students including students from the University of Petroleum in Beijing. For further information please contact Professor Paul Glover.

Rock Mechanics/ Engineering Geology, Geotechnical and Hydrology

We investigate the geomechanical, geotechnical and geoenvironmental behaviour of the ground (rock and soil) and groundwater mainly focusing on the interaction between the ground and infrastructures and/or man-made projects. Our aim is to expand the boundaries of the current knowledge in specific areas mainly on rock mechanics, engineering geology (and hydrogeology) and geotechnical areas.

Our main research of areas are related to: Tunnelling (Underground Space Applications), Mining and Rock Mechanics, Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, Geomechanics and Seismology, Geotechnical Engineering and Geothermal Energy, Risk Engineering and Natural Hazard Assessment.

Our aim is to produce high quality research with practical applications and produce scientific tools that practioners and engineers can use during the design and construction of geo-related engineering projects.We have strong collaborative links with the engineering and environmental consultancy sector, regulators and waste management companies. We also have good links with related research groups both in the UK and worldwide (Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Greece, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, USA). We have specialist expertise in rock mechanics and tunnelling engineering as well in engineering geology, landslide mechanics, slope stability and weathering and hydrogeology of fractured rocks, hydrogeophysics and contaminant biodegradation. We have a wide range of facilities in house for rock and soil testing including aquifer testing; bore hole logging and surface & borehole geophysical surveying. Additionally, we have well-equipped geochemistry laboratories with facilities for chemical and stable isotopic analysis of solid and fluid samples.

For further information contact Dr Chrysothemis Paraskevopoulou.