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What is your field and specialization? 

I’m a geologist. My interest in geology started when I was probably in my early teenage years. I was somewhat influenced by having an older brother – quite a lot older – who was a geologist and who went to do geology in Australia as a Ten Pound Pom. I inherited some of his rocks and some of his books and friends tell me that he influenced me. I was also really interested in geography, and you couldn’t do geology at my school, so I did geography.

I thought that if I went to university to do a geography degree, though, I’d end up teaching geography and that’s not what I wanted to do. So, I chose geology. I could see that it had the potential of a profession, so after getting a First in my geology degree, I went on to do a PhD. My PhD involved mapping southwest Cyprus to try and understand how it fitted into the bigger eastern Mediterranean picture, particularly its relationship to the uplifted ocean crust (the Troodos mountains in the middle of Cyprus).

I had a great time. I had a van and big thing of water and some food, a tent and mapping equipment. Off I went on my own for a week. I’d return to town, spend a night in a youth hostel, collect mail, collect more food and water and then go back into the field. I did that over three field seasons for a total of eight months and mapped the whole of southwest Cyprus in quite a lot of detail.

Great fun, great fun. You won’t be able to do it on your own anymore for safety reasons, but it was great fun.  

Offshore oil rig
Organic sediments, North Slope, Alaska.

Tell us about your upcoming course with GeoLogica – what is it about and who is it for? 

So, the course is intended to give geoscience and engineering professionals a feel for how rocks and fluids behave in the subsurface, with specific reference to the containment of CO2, hydrogen and compressed air at a suitable storage site. For example, how and when might CO2 leak into the ceiling rocks of the container, and at what rate.

Is it through the pore network of the seal, or could it be by generating new pathways, such as hydraulic fractures or via chemical reactions? Another element of the training will be to address what the changes are that take place when injecting hydrogen into a storage site repeatedly.

What is the effect of putting hydrogen in, increasing the stresses inside the container, then reducing those stresses, and repeating the pattern over and over again? What happens to the storage site over a long period of injection, removal and reinjection?

What are the maximum volumes that can be stored safely? And in this context ‘safely’ means with no leakage or, as a minimum, such a slow rate of leakage as to be acceptable to regulatory authorities.