Professor Simon Holford
State Chair in Petroleum Geoscience
School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.
I am the South Australian State Chair of Petroleum Geoscience in the Discipline of Earth Sciences, School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences, University of Adelaide. With my colleague Rosalind King, I lead the Stress, Structure & Seismic (S^3) Research Group; this is a multidisciplinary group of academics, research staff and HDR students working mostly on applied GeoEnergy problems related to structural geology and geomechanics in sedimentary basins. Current research foci include the development of rapid methods for evaluating the geomechanical impacts of CCUS at basin scales, the quantification of uncertainty associated with stress magnitude determination and the geomechanical impacts of cyclic hydrogen storage. I have a long-standing interest in magmatism in sedimentary basins, with geographic focus on the rifted margins of Australia and NW Europe. This research seeks to understand the impacts of magmatism on petroleum systems and evaluate the potential for subsurface gas storage, and specifically the permanent storage of carbon, in buried volcanic rocks.
- My Research
- Grants and Funding
- Professional Activities
My main research interests are;
1) Magmatic systems in sedimentary basins. This work is focused on the interactions between igneous intrusive and extrusive systems and basin structure, stratigraphy and the elements of the petroleum system, with a current focus on evaluation the potential for permanent CO2 storage in buried volcanic rocks. Current projects on this topic involve collaboration with the University of Aberdeen and University of Canterbury.
2) Structural permeability. This work is focused on understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic drivers behind fracture-hosted fluid flow in sedimentary basins, with application to both conventional hydrocarbon exploration and production and the subsurface storage of gases such as CO2 and hydrogen. Current and recent projects on this topic have been funded by the ARC, ARENA, the Geological Survey of South Australia, IMER and ASEG.
3) The evolution of Australia's 'passive' southern rifted margin. This work is focused on understanding the tectonic evolution of the southern Australian margin. This work was originally funded by an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship, and is now primarily focused on the Bight Basin. I was the lead proponent for IODP APL-897 which was incorporated into IODP Expedition 367.
Available PhD projects
If you are interested in working on one of the following topics, please contact me.
Storing carbon in buried volcanoes
This project will assess the feasibility of permanent carbon dioxide storage through carbonate mineralisation in buried volcanic rocks proximal to high CO2 content reservoirs. The project will involve; mapping buried volcanoes using 3D seismic reflection; studying multiphase flow (including CO2) in volcanic rocks; and field work in volcanic provinces to generate virtual outcrop models that will inform reservoir simulation.
Fault stability during CO2 and hydrogen injection
This project will focus on the Cooper Basin and will investigate the maximum sustainable pressures related to reservoir CO2 and hydrogen injection that will not induce seismicity. The main aims of the project include: determining contemporary, pre-injection stresses, pore pressures and rock strengths; developing 3D structural models for potential CO2 and hydrogen storage sites; reservoir-to-basin scale numerical-geomechanical modelling; and geomechanical risking to evaluate the likelihood of induced seismicity.
The seismic and stratigraphic record of ancient Southern Ocean currents
The overarching goal of this project is to develop a deep-time record of ocean circulation using the Cenozoic sedimentary record of the southern Australian margin. The project will involve: detailed mapping of along-slope sediment drifts using high-resolution 3D seismic data from the Great Australian Bight; re-evaluation of Cenozoic strata recovered during IODP/ODP drilling; and integration with paleoceanographic modelling to evaluate hypothesis for the onset of modern bottom currents.
‘Critical gases’ in South Australia
This project will explore the geological controls on the origin and distribution of commercially important ‘critical gases’ including natural CO2, hydrogen and helium in South Australia.
Constraints on the Cretaceous topographic evolution of central Australia from geodynamic modelling and subsurface mapping (joint project with UNSW)
The impact of mantle convection on surface uplift, subsidence, erosion and deposition is being increasingly recognised as having a major control the emission of natural, mantle-derived CO2 and the formation and distribution of natural resources in sedimentary basins. However, understanding the topographic evolution of intra-plate continental interiors remains difficult due to poor depth constraints of measurements and a lack of regional-scale geodynamic modelling. Hence, the precise mechanisms responsible for the formation of localised continental sedimentary basins, surface uplift and erosion due to shallow mantle convection and its impacts on natural resources over geological time remains a significant and unresolved problem. Understanding the processes responsible for such topography provides the key to determining how the surfaces of continental interiors that lie far from plate tectonic boundaries evolve over time.
The intra-continental Eromanga basin is one of Australia’s largest sedimentary sub-basins and forms part of the larger Great Artesian Basin. The Eromanga Basin has undergone a complex history of mantle-related subsidence, uplift and erosion over the last 200 million years. Deciphering the mechanisms responsible for vertical crustal movements across the Eromanga Basin is fundamental to understand the magnitude and timing of mantle-related uplift in a sedimentary basin system that has been identified as a candidate for CO2 storage. This project aims to bring together different datasets (seismic, well, gravity and magnetic) to produce a basin-wide assessment of Cretaceous strata. Geodynamic modelling will be applied (e.g. using the Advanced Solver for Problems in Earth Sciences, ASPECT) to investigate the mechanisms, timing and magnitude of mantle-related uplift across the basin.
The successful candidate will be based at the University of Adelaide and be supervised by Prof. Simon Holford and co-supervised by Dr Bhavik Harish Lodhia (University of New South Wales Sydney). Occasional travel to UNSW Sydney will be expected.
Date Position Institution name 2023 - ongoing SA State Chair of Petroleum Geoscience University of Adelaide 2021 - 2022 SA State Chair of Petroleum Geoscience University of Adelaide 2018 - 2021 Associate Professor of Petroleum Geoscience University of Adelaide, Adelaide 2014 - 2017 Senior Lecturer in Petroleum Geoscience University of Adelaide 2012 - 2013 Lecturer in Petroleum Geoscience University of Adelaide 2008 - 2011 ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow University of Adelaide 2007 - 2007 Research Fellow University of Adelaide 2006 - 2007 Research Associate University of Birmingham
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2022 Award APPEA Best Poster APPEA Australia - 2021 Award APPEA Best Extended Abstract APPEA Australia - 2019 Award AEGC 2019 Best Presentation AEGC Australia - 2018 Award ES Hills Medal Geological Society of Australia Australia - 2018 Fellowship Visiting Research Fellow Australian School of Petroleum and Energy Resources Australia - 2015 Award ASEG Best Paper - - - 2015 Research Award AAPG Top 10 Best Poster American Association of Petroleum Geologists United States - 2014 Award DI Groves Medal - - - 2013 Research Award PESA Best Student Paper Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia Australia - 2012 Award APPEA Best Paper - - - 2011 Award Walter Howchin Medal Geological Society of Australia Australia - 2008 Fellowship ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship Australian Research Council Australia -
Date Institution name Country Title 2001 - 2005 University of Birmingham United Kingdom PhD 1998 - 2001 Keele University United Kingdom BSc (Dual Hons), Geology & Geography, First Class
Year Citation 2019 Burgin, H., Amrouch, K., Kulikowski, D., Holford, S., & Robion, P. (2019). Geomechanical modelling and consequences for fluid-flow in complex rifted settings: A case study in the Otway Basin, Australia. Poster session presented at the meeting of Geophysical Research Abstracts. Vienna, Austria: Copernicus GmbH. 2018 McCabe, P., Holford, S., Huber, B., Hobbs, R., Bogus, K., & Wainman, C. C. (2018). Sedimentological and palynological investigations from Mesozoic strata of the Bight and Mentelle Basins, Australia: Preliminary results from IODP Expedition 369.. Poster session presented at the meeting of Australian Geoscience Council Convention. Adelaide, Australia. 2016 Collins, A. S., Acott, J., Lloyd, J., Payne, J., Glorie, S. M., Holford, S., . . . Jourdan, F. (2016). U-Pb and Hf Zircon Data Sources the New Zealand Torlesse and the Ceduna SubBasin Sediment Origin to Queensland, Indicating Widespread Mesozoic Erosion and Sediment Distribution. Poster session presented at the meeting of AESC 2016.
Active and recent research projects have been funded and supported by the ARC, ARENA, IODP, ASEG Research Foundation, Department for Energy and Mining, Schlumberger, TGS, IMER and Chevron.
I coordinate the following courses: PETROENG1005, PETROGEO4013, PETROGEO7013, PETROGEO7020
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2023 Principal Supervisor Geophysical-geomechanical constraints on the operating limits for basin-scale CO2 storage Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Iain Alexander Campbell 2022 Principal Supervisor Tectonics and Magmatic Evolution of the Browse Basin, North West Shelf of Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Kosuke Tsutsui 2022 Co-Supervisor Reconstructing the Beetaloo/Greater McArthur Basin System Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Johann Savio Soares 2020 Co-Supervisor Application of different angle stacks and seismic attribute analysis to enhance the understanding of the reservoir geology within the Shipwreck Through, Offshore Otway Basin Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Marat Valiyev 2019 Principal Supervisor Post-breakup Evolution of the Ceduna Sub-basin and Understanding of Processes that Occur on Rifted Continental Margins Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Monica Jimenez Lloreda 2018 Principal Supervisor Magmatism and Petroleum Systems in the North West Shelf Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Michael Shaun Curtis
Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2018 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Neotectonic faults of the Paralana Escarpment and their influence on uranium-bearing fluid flow Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Jonathan David Donauer Berthiaume 2017 - 2021 Principal Supervisor Improving the Accuracy of Geomechanical Predictions in Sedimentary Basins Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Matthew Mark Musolino 2017 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Analysing Ancient Focused Fluid Flow Systems in Offshore Sedimentary Basins of Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Tayallen Velayatham 2016 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Characterising the structural, petrophysical, and geochemical properties of inverted fault zones Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Natalie Debenham 2016 - 2019 Co-Supervisor A Multiscale Approach towards the Characterisation of Upper Crustal Deformation at Passive Continental Margins: A Case Study on the Otway Basin, Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Hugo Bonython Burgin 2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Structural Evolution of Deformation Bands Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Drew Christopher Lubiniecki 2014 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Normal fault growth analysis using 3D seismic datasets located along Australia’s southern margin Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Alexander George Robson 2013 - 2018 Principal Supervisor An evaluation of petroleum systems within the Billiluna Sub-basin and adjacent structural regions, Northeastern Canning Basin Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Mr Peter James Hawke 2013 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Meso-Cenozoic intraplate magmatism along the Australian southern margin Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Fun Julie Ellen Meeuws 2013 - 2016 Co-Supervisor The resistivity and permeability of fractured rocks Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Alison Louise Kirkby 2012 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Structural Permeability in Australian Sedimentary Basins Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Adam Henry Edward Bailey 2009 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Origin and Structure of the Ceduna Delta System, Offshore South Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Justin MacDonald 2009 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Compressional Deformation and Exhumation in Sedimentary Basins at 'Passive' Continental Margins, with implications for Hydrocarbon Exploration and Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr David Tassone
Date Role Board name Institution name Country 2015 - ongoing - Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia - -
Date Role Committee Institution Country 2015 - ongoing President Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia SA/NT Branch - - 2012 - ongoing Member Geological Society of Australia SA Division - -
Date Role Membership Country 2010 - ongoing - Geological Society of Australia - 2008 - ongoing - AAPG - 2008 - ongoing - PESA - 2001 - ongoing Member Geological Society of London -
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