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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5150M Geological and Physical Methods for Subsurface Characterisation

15 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Prof Paul W. J. Glover

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

As for programme entry

This module is mutually exclusive with

SOEE5158MApplied Geophysical Methods

This module is not approved as an Elective


In this module, students will learn the fundamentals of geological and petrophysical analysis required to characterize subsurface formations in order to understand and manage environmental and economic resources. Such resources include fresh and salt water aquifers and porous reservoirs, for the sequestration of CO2, short-term storage of energy or the production of hydrocarbons. Resources may also include mineral and ore deposits, or formations in the shallow subsurface which can be developed for civil engineering projects.

The goal of the module is to provide the basic tools required to characterise fully the rocks at depth at all scales in the light of striking a balance between economic growth and environmental safeguarding. The module starts by considering basic geological field skills, and qualitative analysis of basin-scale structural geology, and progresses in the second semester to consider quantitative petrophysical properties of rocks at a well log to microscopic scale.

Learning outcomes
1. Demonstrate the fundamental geological skills required to analyse subsurface geology (geological cycle, stratigraphy, earth structure, maps and structure, sediments and sedimentary environments).
2. Understand the controls and limitations placed on the development of geological basins by large scale processes (e.g., plate tectonics, deposition) and local processes (e.g., fracturing, diagenesis, cementation).
3. Perform elementary geological recording and analysis through a short field trip.
4. Derive and use physical properties of subsurface reservoirs at all scales from hand samples, cores, chippings and wireline data.
5. Recognise the importance of heterogeneity, anisotrophy and uncertainties in data used to characterise the subsurface remotely at all scales.
6. Analyse petrophysical wireline data in order to calculate the resources, storage and mobility of fluids in a reservoir used for extraction, CCS or energy storage.

Skills outcomes
This module will equip the student with the following subject specific skills:
1. Geological - The development of the student's ability to engage in geological, stratigraphic and structural assessment of subsurface resources.
2. Petrophysical - The ability to understand and be able to use petrophysical well-logs and core analysis to quantify the properties of subsurface formations.
3. Economic - The ability to carry out value assessments of resources based upon their economic value and potential for social growth.
4. Environmental - The ability to carry out value assessments of resources based upon their environmental value and vulnerability.


Introductory geology. Fundamental geology skills (geological cycle, stratigraphy, earth structure, maps and structure, sediments and sedimentary environments, geological field trip).

Geological interpretation of basin structure. Overview of plate tectonics, stress in the lithosphere, tensile and shear fracture, faulting styles, extensional basins and associated basins - rifting, models of passive rifting, passive margins, compressional tectonics and associated basins - orogenic belts and foreland basins, models of lithospheric flexure, sedimentation patterns, strike-slip tectonics and associated basins, salt tectonics, salt properties and associated structures, fluid flow in fractured rocks, from data to reservoir scale modelling - numerical flow modelling and up-scaling.

Field methods. In-field appreciation of geological concepts, and experience with fundamentals of field geology.

Properties of subsurface resources. Overview of the properties of subsurface resources as a function of scale, consequences of heterogeneity and anisotropy, consequences of multi-mineral systems multiphase fluids, the importance of matrix concentration of solid resources, storage and fluid flow in geothermal, CO2 sequestration, water, hydrocarbon production and energy storage applications, structural and stratigraphic control of resource size, the importance of burial and diagenetic history.

Formulation evaluation using well logs. Resistivity/induction logging, SP logs, sonic, density and neutron porosity logs, natural and spectral gamma ray, NMR logs, image logs and determination of lithology and porosity from well logs. Analysis of the storage capacity and fluid mobility within reservoirs. Rock microstructure, porosity, permeability: electrical and other properties. Routine and special core analysis, methods and applications.

Evaluation of subsurface resources. Resource evaluation and risk/uncertainty analysis, resource development.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours20.00
Private study hours19.00
Total Contact hours111.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

During Independent Learning the student is expected to take part in at least the following activities:
1. Wider reading using any platform, mixing academic and other resources.
2. Research in support of team and individual assessed practicals.
3. Preview and review of module notes, slides and handouts, available on Minerva, together with personal notes taken during lectures.
During Private Study the student is expected to take part in at least the following activities:
1. Reading the course notes and the two recommended texts.
2. Carry out any optional supporting exercises.
3. Prepare for any set examinations by carrying out subject specific study and particularly completing any exam-facing formative exercises.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

All pieces of summative continuous assessment will be provided with either oral or written feedback, and usually both. Feedback will be both generic and individual.

Formative assessments include:
- Petrophysics Ex1 - A set of numerical exercises
-Petrophysics Ex2 - A log analysis on simplified synthetic log data which is used as a preparatory stage for the substantial summative exercise.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportGeology: Field Trip20.00
PracticalGeology: Basin Practical30.00
Group ProjectTeam Practical. Petrophysics: Well logging practical50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Resits for the exercises will take the form of a repetition of the coursework where possible, otherwise an essay of the appropriate length with a relevant title. The petrophysics component also includes two summative assessments, one numerical and the other preparatory to the formative assessment. The summative petrophysics assessment is a poster submission which is the cumulative result of 2 weeks of significant analysis and numerical calculation (including 8 hours of F2F support).

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 26/05/2022 14:15:15


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