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Feeling the pressure in sedimentary basins: the periodic venting of hot fluids from within the Earth

24 February 2016
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Geological Society Events
The Geological Society, Burlington House, London
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Enormous volumes of water are trapped in the subsurface, hidden from view to our normal surface-based observational techniques.

The flow of water is inherently uneven: huge eruptions of muddy slurries at the Earth’s surface are a testament to this highly focused fluid flow regime. Using the revolutionary technique of 3D seismic imaging, Joe Cartwright showed the many different ways that highly focused fluid flow occurs in Nature and examine some of the processes that are involved.

The talk looked at how mud volcanoes form, how methane is naturally vented to the oceans in large quantities, and explored the competing controls that drive fluids to move in such an extraordinarily diverse way.


Joe Cartwright (Professor of Earth Sciences, Oxford University)

Joe Cartwright was appointed as the Shell Professor of Earth Sciences at Oxford University in October 2012. He graduated with a BA in Geology from Jesus College Oxford in 1980, worked for Shell International as an exploration geophysicist from 1980-1984, and then returned to Oxford for his D.Phil on rift systems (1988). He was at Imperial College as a Senior Lecturer until 1999, and was appointed Honorary Professor of the Institut Francais du Petrole in 1998. He was appointed Research Professor at Cardiff University in 1999. He was elected a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales in 2012, and was awarded the Silver Medal of the Petroleum Group in the same year. He is a 2014 Grover E Murray Distinguished Educator awardee of the AAPG. 

His research interests have focused on the application of 3D seismic interpretation to basin analysis, on the propagation of normal faults, the genesis of polygonal fault systems, hydraulic fracturing and the mechanics of sandstone and igneous intrusions, submarine slides and other forms of soft sediment deformation. His current interests address the characterisation of mudrocks, both as seals and as unconventional reservoirs.