2020-06-Offer for a Thesis Allowance - Subject: Petrophysical characterization of deformation bands in reservoir rocks: towards a quantification of processes

  • Help
  • Find
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
E2S: Energy and Environment Solutions
You are here:
  • >
  • >
  • > Offer for a Thesis Allowance - Petrophysical characterization of deformation bands in reservoir rocks: towards a quantification of processes

Offer for a Thesis AllowanceSubject: Petrophysical characterization of deformation bands in reservoir rocks: towards a quantification of processes

Scientific context

Geological reservoirs, with their capacity to store resources and gas, are essential elements of the energy transition. It should therefore be possible to predict the petrophysical characteristics of these rocks over the long term, including how they are modified during deformation phases.

Deformation bands are the main mesostructures accommodating early deformation in reservoir, porous and/or poorly indurated rocks that fill foreland basins. At first order, their typology can be related to the nature and magnitude of the mechanical load. Nevertheless, many other parameters may be involved in the formation of deformation bands: the size and morphology of the grains in their initial state, the distribution of porosity in the matrix, the supply of fluids and their chemical reactivity, the existence of pre-existing weakness planes.


Keywords: structural geology, rocks mechanics, reservoir, deformation bands, X-ray tomography


Missions and activities

This thesis project aims at : (1) to characterize all these parameters (porosity/permeability properties, grain size and arrangement, deformation conditions) for each typology encountered in nature, and (2) to test the effect of deformation bands on the mechanical response of the rock by conducting mechanical tests. The expectations of this work are to provide an extensive database to quantify the impact of deformation bands on the structural integrity of rocks. In addition, these data will allow to better constrain fluid migrations allowing a phenomenological explanation of this very common process in porous rocks.

The work will focus on two complementary sites: the Boixols overlap area (Tremp basin) and the Cotiella thrust area (Armena Valley), both located in the southern foreland of the Pyrenees. These targets are ideal because the deformation band populations have been the subject of detailed studies there, allowing the subject to focus on the characterisation of the conditions and properties of the deformation. They also provide access to two types of host rock lithologies: Cotiella cement-limestone calcarenites and Boixols sandstones. During the course of the thesis, 4 components will be developed: a first component of (micro)structural characterization of the terrain, a second component of characterization of the grain distribution by 3D imaging, a third component on the reconstruction of the temperature conditions and the deformation schedule by isotopic approaches, and a fourth component dedicated to the dynamic mechanical study of these deformation bands on samples whose grain distribution has been previously characterized by tomography, accompanied by a numerical modeling of fluid flow. The first three parts will be mainly carried out at the host university (UPPA, Pau, France), and the last part will require a stay at Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh, Scotland).


Working conditions

Hosting laboratory: Laboratory of Complex Fluids and their Reservoirs (LFCR)

Laboratory expertise: From the nanometer to hundreds of kilometers, from the nanosecond to a million years, from the physics and chemistry of interfaces, through the thermodynamics of fluids under flow, to reservoir geology, geomechanics and geophysics, status as an “industrial” UMR (Joint Research Unit), supervised by TOTAL, the CNRS and the UPPA, the LFCR is an innovative and remarkable research unit in more ways than one. Its specific focus, essentially based on the study of fossil georesources, and totally in phase with the local socio-economic context, sets it apart regarding applications and enables it to host internationally-recognized teams.

Scientific team: The student will be part of the Geological Reservoir Characterization (CRG) team. This team (12 permanent researchers, 12 PhD students, 12 post-docs) is interested in geological reservoirs through 3 prisms: geological; petrophysics, and geophysics. This team is integrated in the laboratory of Complex Fluids and their Reservoirs, with analytical platforms very interesting for the student, in geomechanics of porous media and in X-ray microtomography (DMEX). In addition, the IPREM laboratory houses a wide variety of instruments for geochemical measurements at the ppb scale.  All this equipment allows the student to develop his or her skills in a work of high scientific quality. 

Localisation: Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (France), Université Heriot Watt (Edimbourg, Ecosse).
PAU is located 3h30 away from the two study sites where the target rocks are exposed in excellent conditions.

PhD supervisor: Prof. Charles Aubourg (UPPA, France, charles.aubourg @ univ-pau.fr)
PhD co-supervisor: Dr. Nicolas Beaudoin (UPPA, France, nicolas.beaudoin @ univ-pau.fr)
In collaboration with: Dr. Elma Charalampidou (Heriot-Watt, Ecosse, ec10 @ hw.ac.uk)

Starting date: September 1st, 2020

Length: 3 years

Employer: UPPA, doctoral school ED 211 Doctoral School of Exact Sciences and their Applications

Gross monthly salary: 1650€ / month
(doctoral contract - NO teaching duties)


Required skills and competences - Who can apply ?

A Master graduate with strong knowledge of structural geology and/or rock mechanics.
Programming skills to effectively use image analysis and numerical modeling tools are also required.

The candidate must be passionate for identifying solutions to environment related concerns and for multidisciplinary research.

A previous experience would be a plus.
The candidate should have a strong predilection for laboratory work. Team working abilities are highly appreciated. He/She is curious, rigorous and highly motivated, with the capacity to work autonomously.

English proficiency is mandatory and he/she must have good bibliographic and writing integration skills.


Application - Evaluation criteria

Application files will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Candidate's motivation, scientific maturity and curiosity
  • Candidate's basic knowledge and experimental skills
  • Academic results : grades and ranking in M1 and M2 ; steadiness in the academic background
  • English language proficiency
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Candidate’s ability to present her/his work and results
  • Professional experience (e.g. Work experience similar to an internship in a laboratory – or likewise, any previously achieved research work, reports, publications ...)

Application file composition and submission deadline

Application must be written in English and sent to the following email addresses:
charles.aubourg @ univ-pau.fr and nicolas.beaudoin @ univ-pau.fr
with the title “Doctoral application”, and the following documents attached (altogether, in a single pdf file):

  • CV (max 2 pages) including the publication list when applicable
  • Cover letter detailing the candidate's motivations (max 2 pages)
  • Copy of your Master diplomas and transcripts (marks and ranking)
  • A pdf copy of your Master internship report, if available
  • Any letter of recommendation
  • Contact details ( Name and e-mail addresses) of 2 referees (including the Master thesis supervisor)


Submission deadline : July 15th, 2020


For more details, please visit our website