Course overview

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GEOL40650 Overview of applied geoscience (5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Peter Haughton

This module covers the main industry sectors and their requirements in terms of modern subsurface characterisation. Important properties of the main rock types and surficial sediments are introduced, the geological backdrop to the main application areas reviewed, and examples of the challenges, and geoscience solutions to them, selected from across the petroleum, minerals, groundwater and geotechnical areas. Many of the tools, principles and methods that are introduced will be developed in more detail in subsequent modules.


GEOL40640 Principles and methods in subsurface characterization and modelling (5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Tom Manzocchi

This module reviews the practical use and construction of maps and models in geosciences. Methods discussed include computer mapping (e.g. kriging, contouring), computer aided design (CAD) in geosciences and geoengineering, computer geomodelling (e.g. structural framework modelling, GeoChron modelling, fracture network modelling), and gridding and solver discretisation (e.g. finite difference and finite element methods). Strategies for designing fit-for-purpose modelling studies are discussed, including the important challenge of communicating complex and uncertain geoscience information to non-specialist decision-makers or stakeholders. Practical classes focus on application of geomodelling methods in idealised scenarios, and on interpretation of example models. The module includes a series of lectures from research and industry-focused geomodel creators and users across diverse application areas.

GEOL40660 Stratigraphic prediction (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Peter Haughton

A module focussing on how to build stratigraphic correlations and predict lithology using core and well data. It will introduce core-to-log ties and correlation strategies including surface based correlations in 3D using sequence stratigraphic principles. The module will also cover the application of bio-, chemo- and cyclostratigraphy in setting up correlation frameworks. Examples from deeper subsurface reservoir analysis, behind-outcrop coring, and shallow geotechnical and groundwater-related projects will form the basis of a series of related practical sessions.


GEOL40520 ‘Hard rock’ characterisation (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: John Walsh

This module concentrates principally on the characterisation and 3D modelling of igneous and metamorphic rocks for a variety of application areas extending from economic geology through to engineering geology. Geological models for the origin of the main types of mineral deposits, will be highlighted by practicals reinforcing the methods underpinning 3D modelling for mineral exploration and production. The principles of rock mass characterisation for engineering purposes, will be complemented by the investigation of rock properties and the stability and failures of rocks. The characterisation of fractured aquifers will also be explored, together with consideration of the main issues controlling groundwater flow within hard rocks.


GEOL40700 Applied Quaternary Geology (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Sam Kelley

This 2.5 credit module explores the geologic record of the past 2.6 million years, and in particular, the effect that Quaternary glacial activity has had on the landscape. In many cases, unconsolidated deposits from the Quaternary are discontinuous and heterogeneous, posing challenges to subsurface description. Recognizing the deposits, landforms, and processes related to Quaternary glacial and non-glacial conditions are key in accurately characterizing Quaternary deposits. This information underpins many industries including mineral exploration, aggregate extraction, groundwater monitoring, and environmental remediation.


GEOL40530 Applied structural geology (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Conrad Childs

This module will present practical approaches to determining and validating the structural evolution of an area and for evaluating the impact of this evolution on subsurface resources. Established relationships between stress and strain will be the basis for studying controls on the nature and character of structures developed under different geological conditions. The ability of these structures to impact subsurface poroperm distribution and therefore the flow of geologic fluids that are crucial to most subsurface operations will be a key focus of the module.


GEOL40560 Geofluids and geomechanics (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Tom Manzocchi

This 2.5 credit module concerns the behaviour of fluids and stresses in the subsurface as a function of natural geological processes and in response to human-induced perturbations. Topics include single and two-phase flow processes at a range of spatial and temporal scales, the development and release of overpressures and stresses, and induced seismicity and subsidence. Applications to ground-water, geothermal, oil and gas and carbon sequestration will be addressed in lectures and practical classes.

GEOL40540 Geophysical methods (7.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Ivan Lokmer

This 5-credit module will introduce students to the physical principles behind, and the practical application of, the geophysical techniques commonly used to image the subsurface (seismology, gravity, magnetic, electrical, electromagnetic methods). Emphasis will be placed on the processing, analysis and interpretation of geophysical data with a focus on shallow geophysical applications.  Students will gain an understanding of how to assess the information content and resolution of geophysical images/models as well as of the importance of underlying physical principles in Earth model building.


GEOL40550 Drilling and well logging (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Peter Haughton

A review of drilling operations, including a site visit, with training in professional core description for a range of industrial applications. The module will also include an overview of open-holes logs and well tests and how they are used to constrain sediment and rock properties in the subsurface.


GEOL40580 Remote sensing (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Eoghan Holohan

This 2.5-credit module provides an overview of how remotely sensed data are used to constrain surface and sub-surface attributes of the Earth. The nature, advantages, and limitations of the various Earth Observation platforms, such as satellites, aircraft and drones will be considered. The module will provide a synopsis of remote sensing data types, such as optical, multi-spectral and hyperspectral data (incl. thermal imaging), synthetic aperture radar, GNSS (GPS), gravity and magnetic data. An overview of remotely-sensed data accessibility and processing will also be provided. The module will also explore how modern techniques, such as photogrammetry, GPS and InSAR, enable use of such data to make three-dimensional images of the Earth’s surface and to constrain subsurface causes of its deformation. The module will include several practical opportunities to analyse and synthesise various remotely sensed data sets by using a Geographical Information System (GIS).

GEOL40670: 3D mapping and modelling I (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Lawrence Amy

Seismic interpretation is a principal technique for imaging and understanding the subsurface in many industries. This 2.5-credit module will provide background and training in seismic interpretation of reflection data including the interpretation of seismic horizons, faults and the application of sequence stratigraphy. As part of this module students will receive training in Schlumberger’s Petrel Platform for 3D visualisation of subsurface data, seismic interpretation, horizon mapping and construction of 3D static models using well and seismic data. The interpretational and software skills learned in this module will be applied in other modules and projects during the course.


GEOL40680: 3D mapping and modelling II (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Lawrence Amy

This 2.5-credit module will consider the evaluation of raw materials in the subsurface, using 3D mapping, modelling and spatial data analysis, with the aim of addressing typical geological problems associated with the exploration for, and sustainable management of subsurface resources. This includes the determination of resource volumes and risking of volumes, as well as strategies for integrated analysis of geological, geochemical and geophysical data. As part of this course students will be introduced to 3D geological modelling and spatial data analysis tools extensively used in the mining, civil engineering, groundwater contamination and geothermal industries. Emphasis will be placed on quality assuring data and applying risking in their interpretation. The skills learned in this module will be applied in other modules and projects during the course.


GEOL40570 Geodata manipulation (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Ivan Lokmer

Modern industry requirements inevitably include numerical, digital and data visualisation skills. This module will introduce students to the methods and techniques aimed to maximising the extraction of useful information from different types of digital geodata. The practical skills and applications of these methods will be achieved through the use of advanced tools for technical computing such as Matlab and/or Python. The student will become familiar with the basics of these versatile packages and upon finishing the module, they will have a solid basis for the analysis and visualisation of different types of Earth-related datasets.


GEOL40690 Fractured rock characterization and modelling (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Tom Manzocchi

This 2.5 credit module addresses the challenge of working with fractured rock masses, and characterisation and modelling of fractures will be discussed with reference to several application areas (e.g. engineering geology, geothermal energy, water resources, gas) in lectures and practical classes. Quantitative methods used to characterise fault and fracture systems from borehole and map data, and the construction of fractured rock geomodels will be discussed. Choice of modelling technique ranges from their explicit representation in discrete fracture network models, to their inclusion as volume-averaged properties in continuum or dual-property models and depends on both fracture characteristics and the problem being addressed.


GEOL40590 Geostatistics and geomodelling (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Tom Manzocchi

Using a geomodel to quantify the value of a resource or to forecast its future behaviour, often requires assigning physical properties to the model. This 2.5 credit module reviews the geostatistical methods used to populate 3D property models, and addresses how they are subsequently used in flow simulation modelling. Lectures are focused on providing a grounding in the principals of the methods while practical classes are devoted to construction and simulation of geomodels using industry-standard software.

GEOL40620 Team-based modelling 1 (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Tom Manzocchi

In this hands-on module, teams of students compete to operate a reservoir in real-time. Initially, well data and maps are used to define a field development plan which is implemented in a flow simulator for each team by the module coordinator. Wells are drilled and operated according to the instructions of the team, and well performance data are provided back to the teams and inform their subsequent field management decisions. As well as providing experience in teamwork, analysis and decision-making to tight deadlines, the exercise reinforces the feedback between pressure and flow rate, and roles of sweep and drainage efficiency in reservoir production.


GEOL40630 Team-based modelling 2 (2.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Peter Haughton

A team-based, competitive exercise involving the appraisal of a mineral deposit. Teams will be supplied with a preliminary subsurface geological and geochemical dataset and may bid to acquire additional data. They will then build a subsurface model and estimate reserves, before presenting their results to external industry panel and documenting their work and the outcomes in a technical memo.


GEOL40600 Fieldwork (7.5 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Peter Haughton

A two week field course in the Spanish south-central Pyrenees, an area where spectacular surface geology can be combined with subsurface seismic and borehole datasets. The course will involve a series of one and two-day exercises built around depositional architecture, stratigraphic prediction, structural analysis, tectonic-sedimentary interactions, fractured rock characterisation and geomodelling.

GEOL40610 Applied research project (30credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Peter Haughton

Students will undertake a three-month applied research project in the technical area of their choosing. Projects will be selected and developed in consultation with relevant staff members and will have an industry focus in terms of the issues addressed, the data on which the project is based, or, where possible, an internship. The results will be reported as minor thesis, and all students will give a final exit presentation.