Dual PhD degree at Heriot-Watt and Ghent Universities


In order to understand leakage from deep CO2 storage reservoirs, the flow along fracture networks and fault zones needs to be quantified under varying pore pressure and stress conditions. This is particularly needed as a first step to quantify leak rates from such reservoirs and to support general risk assessment. An important topic is the understanding of the coupling between stress and permeability of fractures having different mineralogy, aperture size, roughness, tortuosity or angle to bedding. Data and knowledge generated from such measurements can directly feed into small-scale modelling and further into upscaling to the reservoir scale.

This project with a major focus on laboratory studies will be performed at two labs, at the Lyell Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland (HWU) and PProGRess, Department of Geology, Ghent University, Belgium (UGhent), as a dual PhD degree. Fracture flow experiments on a variety of samples and different pore pressure and stress conditions, will be performed at HWU along with matrix permeability measurements. Selected samples will then be tested in a high pressure/high temperature flow cell using X-ray CT imaging to better understand the flow path characteristics in relation to flow rates, feeding into model developments (UGhent). We currently anticipate the successful candidate to perform her/his research at HWU for a total of 2 years and at UGhent for 1 year. This project may further involve field work in Europe and elsewhere, for sample collection and fracture network mapping and therefore requires the ability and willingness to travel.

This project will be integrated in the EU/UK-funded DETECT (Determining the risk of CO2 leakage along fractures of the primary caprock using an integrated monitoring and hydro-mechanical-chemical approach) project where Heriot-Watt University is partnering with Shell, RWTH Aachen University, and Risktec Solutions in a team which includes several postdoctoral researchers and PhD students.


This is a full scholarship which will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of £14,553 for the 36 month duration of the project. 

To be eligible a student must have settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay and been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the grant and not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education (this does not apply to UK or EU nationals).


To be eligible, applicants should have a BSc/MSci 2:1 and/or Masters (MSc) at Merit/Distinction level (>60%) and/or evidence of significant relevant professional experience equivalent to Masters level.

Applicants with a geomaterials/physics/applied geoscience/civil engineering related qualification and an interest in petrophysical, geomechanical or X-ray physical methods are particularly encouraged.  Applicants should further have a strong motivation to succeed in scientific research, excellent presentation and scientific writing skills as well as very good to excellent English language skills (verbally and written). Scholarships will be awarded by competitive merit, taking into account the academic ability of the applicant.

How to Apply

Please complete our online application form.  Please select PhD programme Applied Geoscience and include the full project title, reference number and supervisor on your application form.  You will also need to provide a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts, a CV, supporting statement, an academic reference and proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English).

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr Andreas Busch (HWU) at a.busch@hw.ac.uk or Prof Veerle Cnudde (UGhent) at Veerle.Cnudde@UGent.be.


The closing date for applications is 6 April 2018 and the starting date will be July 2018 or sooner if possible.