Professor Zoe Shipton

Head Of Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Personal statement

My research is concerned with the structural and permeability architecture of faults. Understanding 3D fault structure is key to answering many questions concerning the evolution of fault zone structures and the migration of fluids through the Earth's crust. My research focuses on four main areas

1) How do faults act as high permeability conduits? Will this type of fault allow potentially undesirable fluids, for example contaminated water or CO2, to escape from geological storage sites? Many “leaky” CO2 reservoirs are controlled by faults, and faults are responsible for controlling the formation of some ore bodies [PhD students: Megan Heather-Cooley, Nilay Gulyuz, Stewart Beattie, Ali McCay (2014), Neil Burnside (2010), Heather Moir (2010), Ben Dockrill (2006), Jonny Willson (2006). Post-docs: Yannick Kremer, Stuart Gilfillan, Jamie Kirkpatrick, Aisling Soden, Jen Roberts]

2) Low permeability faults often produce hydrocarbon traps or barriers to fluid flow.What controls the distribution of structural elements in the faults, and how does each structural element contribute to overall fault zone permeability? Is there any scaling of fault elements that would allow us to predict fault zone properties in the subsurface? [PhD students: Silvia Sosio de Rosa, Yannick Kremer (2014), Rachael Ellen (2013), Aisling Soden (2008), Aileen Bright (2006)]

3) Earthquakes are the tangible evidence of relative movements across fault zones.The processes of earthquake rupture propagation are critically dependent on fault structure and geometry. These processes can also potentially be controlled by changing fluid pressure on fault surfaces. Can we understand these processes by looking at faults exhumed from the depths where earthquakes are known to have nucleated? [PhD students: Brigitte Vogt, Jamie Kirkpatrick (2008), Susan Lawther (2011)]

4) How can we constrain uncertainty in geological models? Measurements of petrophysical fault properties can be incorporated into models of bulk fault properties, but how can we optimise data collection to capture variability? How much does our previous experience influence the way we interpret data? [PhD student Euan Macrae (2013), Post-docs: Clare Bond, Jen Roberts].

Each of these problems can be addressed by detailed characterization of fault zone structures and their permeability and physical properties. My research has a strong multidisciplinary approach and includes collaborations with geologists, civil and environmental engineers and statisticians.



Structural controls on the location and distribution of CO2 emission at a natural CO2 spring in Daylesford, Australia
Roberts Jennifer J, Leplastrier Aero, Feitz Andrew J, Shipton Zoe K, Bell Andrew F, Karolyte Rūta
International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control Vol 84, pp. 36-46 (2019)
Inter-seasonal compressed-air energy storage using saline aquifers
Mouli-Castillo Julien, Wilkinson Mark, Mignard Dimitri, McDermott Christopher, Haszeldine R Stuart, Shipton Zoe K
Nature Energy Vol 4, pp. 131-139 (2019)
Fault fictions : cognitive biases in the conceptualization of fault zones
Shipton ZK, Roberts JJ, Comrie EL, Kremer Y, Lunn RJ, Caine JS
Geological Society Special Publications (2019)
Along-strike fault core thickness variations of a fault in poorly lithified sediments, Miri (Malaysia)
Sosio De Rosa Silvia, Shipton Zoe K, Lunn Rebecca J, Kremer Yannick, Murray Titus
Journal of Structural Geology Vol 116, pp. 189-206 (2018)
Detection of weak seismic signals in noisy environments from unfiltered, continuous passive seismic recordings
Kinali M, Pytharouli S, Lunn R J, Shipton Z K, Stillings M, Lord R, Thompson S
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America Vol 108, pp. 2993-3004 (2018)
Measurement of diesel combustion-related air pollution downwind of an experimental unconventional natural gas operations site
Ezani Eliani, Masey Nicola, Gillespie Jonathan, Beattie Tara K, Shipton Zoe K, Beverland Iain J
Atmospheric Environment Vol 189, pp. 30-40 (2018)

more publications

Professional activities

Communicating Geoscience: Building Public Interest and Promoting Inclusive Dialogue
Strathclyde-Sapienza workshop: knowledge exchange on gas monitoring and studying fluid flow in faults
Faculty Robotics and Automation Users Group Discussion
Janet Watson conference: The Future of Hydrocarbon Exploration
Keynote/plenary speaker
Geomechanical and Petrophysical Properties of Mudrocks
Shawlands Primary School
Visiting lecturer

more professional activities


STEM Equals (EPSRC Inclusion Matters)
MacGregor, Scott (Principal Investigator) Carter, Sara (Co-investigator) Lunn, Rebecca (Co-investigator) Pyne, Susan (Co-investigator) Renshaw, Joanna (Co-investigator) Rivers, Ian (Co-investigator) Shipton, Zoe (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 30-Jan-2020
Smart pumping for Subsurface Engineering (Prosperity Partnership)
Shipton, Zoe (Principal Investigator) Corney, Jonathan (Co-investigator) Dempster, William (Co-investigator) Perry, Marcus (Co-investigator) Pytharouli, Stella (Co-investigator) Stankovic, Lina (Co-investigator) Stankovic, Vladimir (Co-investigator) Yang, Shangtong (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2023
OGIC Getech
Shipton, Zoe (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2018
What happens to groundwater chemistry during fault slip: implications for rock friction (£1.2K)
Stillings, Mark (Principal Investigator) Shipton, Zoe (Co-investigator) Lunn, Rebecca (Co-investigator) Lord, Richard (Co-investigator)
Mimicking the pressure changes in groundwater during earthquakes. Changes in groundwater pressure can trigger precipitation and dissolution of minerals, changing water chemistry and fracture surfaces. This in turn can lead to changes in rock friction, potentially increasing the magnitude of future earthquakes.
31-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2019
Groundwater geochemistry changes during unloading due to reservoir drainage: Main study (£25K)
Lord, Richard (Principal Investigator) Stillings, Mark (Post Grad Student) Lunn, Rebecca (Co-investigator) Shipton, Zoe (Co-investigator) Boyce, Adrian J. (Co-investigator)
Use of NERC Isotope Community Support Facility Application IP-1762-1117 (£25K)
Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP 2016-2017 University of Strathclyde) | McKay, Lucy
Shipton, Zoe (Principal Investigator) Lunn, Rebecca (Co-investigator) McKay, Lucy (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2017 - 01-Jan-2020

more projects


Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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