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.



Core surprise : what's inside a plate boundary?
McKay Lucy, Shipton Zoe, Lunn Rebecca
Geoscientist Vol 30, pp. 11-15 (2020)
A systematic study of element mobilisation from gas shales during hydraulic fracturing
Otalega I, Apte SC, King J, Dobson KJ, Shipton ZK, Renshaw JC
Goldschmidt 2020, pp. 2002 (2020)
Collapse processes in abandoned pillar and stall coal mines : implications for shallow mine geothermal energy
Andrews Billy J, Cumberpatch Zoë A, Shipton Zoe K, Lord Richard
Geothermics Vol 88 (2020)
Improving earthquake ground-motion predictions for the North Sea
Brooks Christopher, Douglas John, Shipton Zoe
Journal of Seismology Vol 24, pp. 343-362 (2020)
Subcore scale fluid flow behavior in a sandstone with cataclastic deformation bands
Romano Carla R, Zahasky Christopher, Garing Charlotte, Minto James M, Benson Sally, Shipton Zoe K, Lunn Rebecca J
Water Resources Research Vol 56 (2020)
Detailed internal structure and along-strike variability of the core of a plate boundary fault : the Highland boundary fault, Scotland
McKay Lucy, Shipton Zoe K, Lunn Rebecca J, Andrews Billy, Raub Timothy D, Boyce Adrian J
Journal of the Geological Society Vol 177, pp. 283-296 (2020)

more publications

Professional activities

Fracking Bad Language
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

more professional activities


Organic fingerprinting of groundwater to determine surface water origins
Lunn, Rebecca (Principal Investigator) Shipton, Zoe (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 31-Jan-2022
The architecture and fluid flow properties of shallow fault systems and their implications for geoenergy engineering
Roberts, Jen (Principal Investigator) Shipton, Zoe (Co-investigator) Johnson, Gareth (Co-investigator) McMahon, Christopher (Researcher)
This PhD project seeks to further understanding of fluid flow in the shallow subsurface, and particularly around fault zones, with the aim to reduce risks of geological engineering such as CO2 or hydrogen storage and to inform environmental monitoring. The project involves partners at CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.
Prosperity Partnership Call 2 Strategic Students-Weir Group and University of Strathclyde
Shipton, Zoe (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 30-Jan-2023
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-2021
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) Fan, Ding (Researcher) Parastatidis, Emmanouil (Researcher) Rizzuto, Francesco (Researcher) Xi, Xun (Researcher)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2023
OGIC Getech
Shipton, Zoe (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2018

more projects


Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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