Structural geology and rock physics

Internal description

Fault systems and how they respond to stress depends on the physical properties of the rocks involved. Through a combination of field observation and laboratory experiment we unravel the processes that play a key role in processes as diverse as fracking, carbon sequestration and magma chamber evolution.


We use combination of field work, experiments and modelling to study physical processes occurring in rocks both natural and induced by human activity. The group runs one of the leading rock mechanics laboratories in the world that has over 40 years of experience in high pressure and temperature rock physics. We have a range of equipment for studying deformation of rocks from room temperature to 1300°C and from 1 bar to 5 kbars. We can deform rocks to high strain in extension and torsion in our Paterson gas apparatus up to 1300°C. We can measure the seismic velocity, permeability and electrical conductivity of rocks at similar range of conditions.

Key findings

- Measure the pressure dependent permeability of shale (Mckernan et al. 2017).
- Measure the hydraulic transmissivity of faults (Rutter et al. 2018).
- Imaging of fracture growth in shale (Chandler et al. 2018)
- Measured the effect of the third stress invariant on rheology (Covey-Crump et al. 2016)
- Measure the hydrolytic weakening of different slip systems in olivine (Tielke et al. in press).
- Used nanoSIMS to put tighter limits on the volume of water stored in grain boundaries in Earth's mantle (Tielke et al. in press).

Related information


Project: Research

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Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

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