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CeREES Centre for Geoenergy

Staff Profiles

Prof Richard Davies, BSc, PhD, FGS

(email at


2010 – present — Professor of Energy and Director of Durham Energy Institute

2008 – 2009 — Acting Director of Durham Energy Institute

2006 – 2009 — Professor and Director of the Centre for Research into Earth Energy Systems (CeREES)

2003 – 2006 — Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University, UK

2001 – 2003 — Senior Exploration Geologist, ExxonMobil – Houston, USA

1999 – 2002 — Senior Exploration Geologist, ExxonMobil, London, UK

1995 – 1999 — Geologist, Mobil, Aberdeen and London, UK.

1994 – 1995 — Consultant Sedimentology Field Geologist, Venezuela

1986 – 1987 — Trainee Mining Engineer, Anglo American, South Africa

1995 — PhD Edinburgh

1990 — BSc Reading University

Career Research Highlights

Independent Research
Since 2007, Richard Davies has developed a strong track record researching the risks associated with oil and gas activities. From 2007 to 2010 he led an international team that showed that the Lusi mud volcano was almost certainly triggered by conventional gas drilling activity rather than being a natural disaster. He is now working on the risks associated with fracking. He is staunchly agnostic about whether or not fracking is a technology that nation states use. His role is to remain unbiased and seek to do the best science possible to help inform the public, governments and other decision makers.

Richard Davies spent 7 years in the petroleum industry in Aberdeen, London and Houston with ExxonMobil working on development and exploration projects. This included working on the Shearwater Field (North Sea), wildcat explorations wells west of Shetlands and deepwater Nigeria exploration. 


Richard Davies has spear headed the use of 3D seismic reflection data and visualisation in geoscience research. His focus recently has been on gas hydrates. Since 2007 he has published several papers on the risks associated with oil and gas exploitation, including risks linked to fracking.


Richard Davies' main role at Durham University has been in building cross-department and cross faculty research research in energy. This started in the field of geo-energy (e.g. fossil fuels, carbon capture and storage) and more recently has been across a spectrum of energy research, with the development of Durham Energy Institute (DEI). Davies' remit has been to build DEI from concept to a fully functioning and high achieving energy institute which is Nationally and Internationally significant. This has included development and roll out of effective governance, raising internal and external profile, attracting significant new funding for posts, getting recognition in UK government and enabling and triggering new research opportunities.

Since 2008 DEI has undergone spectacular growth and now involves 107 researchers across 12 departments. Research income for 2010 was almost £9M. Highlights in 2010 were collaborating on winning a £54M grant on Low Carbon Networks (DEI lead - Phil Taylor); £1M funding from DONG Energy for a Prof of Renewable Energy and £0.6M from Eaga for a Prof of Low Carbon Communities. DEI works closely with UK Research Councils and the private sector. It was officially launched by the Rt. Hon. Chris Huhne, Secretary of State, Energy & Climate Change on 28th March 2011. 

Committee and Society Service

2012 — Advisor to Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on shale gas (2012).

2012 — Chair of RCUK 5 year review of UKERC (UK Energy Research Centre).

2010 – present — Advisory Board High Temperature Research Facility, TATA steel and Centre for Process Innovation

2009 – present — Energy Leadership Council, Northeast England

2009 — Advisor to University of Kashmir and Jammu (India) in setting up regional Energy Institute

2007 – 2008 — Member of the IIS-PPG (international industrial liaison panel for the IODP)

2004 – 2007 — Chair of UK IODP (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program) industrial liaison panel of 15 geoscientists and engineers from the oil and gas industry

2005 – 2006 — Member of the UK-IODP Steering Committee

2001 – 2007 — Member of the Petroleum Group of the Geological Society Treasurer (2000-2001). 

Conferences and Workshops

2005 — Lead convenor, conference on ‘Seismic Geomorphology’ SEPM/GSL

2004 — Convenor of 6th Conference on Petroleum Geology of Northwest Europe and Global Perspectives GSL/PESGB/SPE

2003 — Convenor Petroleum Geology Collaborative Research Conference, GSL

2001 — Lead convenor, conference on ‘3D seismic technology’, GSL

Editorial Roles

2008 – present  Editor, Basin Research

Invited Keynotes and Talks

2007 — Sir Kingsley Dunham Memorial Lecture

2003 — Petroleum Geology Collaborative Research Conference (GSL)



Al Jazeera, Series: People and Power. Programme : 'Indonesia's Muddy Justice'


Channel 4 News Discussing the cause of the Lusi mud volcano

BBC1 Bang Goes the Theory, (2010), Discussing how much oil is left.

Al Jazeera News


'The Challenges of Deepwater Drilling. BBC Radio 4 'The Material World'. 13.05.2010. 

Prizes and Awards

2009 – present — Honorary Professor at Heriot Watt University

2008 — Aberconway Medal, Geological Society

2011 — Durham University Award for Excellence in Doctoral Supervision

Recent and Current Grants (Principle or Co-Investigator)

Antje Danielson Durham University 55,000
Richard Davies BG 60,000
Richard Davies Statoil 100,000
Richard Davies Confidential 2,500
Neil Goulty Total 105,000
Richard Davies PESGB 70,000
Richard Davies BP 45,000
Richard Davies ENI 75,000
Richard Davies Dong Energy/ Ikon Science 600,000
Dougal Jerram DONG 80,000
Richard Davies IODP 109,000
Richard Davies One NorthEast Bursaries in Energy and Environment 214,500
Dougal Jerram Chevron 90,000
Jon Gluyas ETI 67,000
Richard Davies BP/NERC 55,000
Richard Davies BP/NERC 55,000
Richard Davies Statoil 90,000
Richard Davies BP/NERC 55,000

Research Interests

  • Deepwater Sedimentary Processes
  • Fluid flow in sedimentary basins
  • Passive Margin Evolution
  • Petroleum Geology
  • Rift Basins
  • Shale gas and hydraulic fracturing
  • Use of 3D seismic data in sedimentary basin analysis
  • Mud volcanoes

Selected Publications

Articles: review

  • Davies, R. J., Moss, J., Hustoft, S., & Mathias, S., (Published). Hydraulic Fractures: How Far Can They Go? Marine and Petroleum Geology v37: p1–6.
  • Davies, R., Foulger, G., Bindley, A. & Styles, P. (2013). Induced Seismicity and Hydraulic Fracturing for the Recovery of Hydrocarbons. Marine and Petroleum Geology 45: 171-185.

Books: edited

  • Davies.R.J., Posamentier, H.W. Wood, L.J. & Cartwright, J.A. (2007). Seismic Geomorphology. Geological Society Special Publications. Geological Society, London: Geological Society, London.

Books: sections

  • Davies R.J. (2009). Lusi Mud Volcano - McGraw Hill 2009 Yearbook of Science & Technology. In McGraw Hill 2009 Yearbook of Science & Technology. McGraw Hill. 197-199.

Edited works: conference proceedings

  • Davies, R.J., Gras, R. & Payre, X. (2005). A Vision for 3D Seismic Technology and Visualization. Geological Society, London.
  • Davies, R.J., O'Donnell, D., Bentham, P.N., Gibson, J.P.C., Curry M.R., Dunay, R.E. & Maynard, J.R. (1999). The origin and genesis of major Jurassic unconformities within the triple junction area of the North Sea, UK. Geological Society, London.

Edited works: contributions

  • Posamentier, HW, Davies, RJ, Cartwright, JA & Wood, L (2007). Seismic geomorphology - an overview. In Seismic Geomorphology: Applications to Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production. Davies, RJ, Posamentier, HW, Wood, L & Cartwright, JA London Geological Society. 177: 1-14.
  • Robinson, A.M., Cartwright, J.A., Burgess, P.M. & Davies, R.J. (2004). 3D seismic analysis of complex delta top incision: An example from the Eocene of the Faroe-Shetland Basin. In 3D Seismic Technology: Application to the Exploration of Sedimentary Basins. Davies R.J., Cartwright J.A., Stewart S.A., Lappin M. & Underhill, J.R. Geological Society, London. 29: 73-82.
  • Stephen, K.J. & Davies, R.J. (1998). Documentation of Jurassic sedimentary cycles from the Moray Firth basin UK North Sea. In Mesozoic and Cenozoic Sequence Stratigraphy of European Basins. de Graciasky, P.C., Hardenbol, J., Jacquin, T., Farley, M. & Vail, P.R. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Special Publication.
  • Davies, R.J., Stephen, K.S. & Underhill, J.R. (1996). A re-evaluation of the Middle and Upper Jurassic stratigraphy and flooding history of the Moray Firth rift system, North Sea. In Geology of the Humber Group Central Graben and Moray Firth, UKCS). In: Hurst et al. (eds) Geological Society Special Publication. 114: 81-108.

Journal papers: academic

  • Davies, R.J., Almond, S., Ward, R., Jackson, R.B., Adams, C., Worrall, F., Herringshaw, L.G., Gluyas, J.G. & Whitehead, M.A. (2014). Oil and gas wells and their integrity: Implications for shale and unconventional resource exploitation. Marine and Petroleum Geology 56: 239-254.
  • Davies, R.J., Thatcher, K.E., Mathias, S.A. & Yang, J. (2012). Deepwater canyons: An escape route for methane sealed by methane hydrate. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 323–324: 72-78.
  • Davies, RJ, Mathias, SA, Moss, J, Hustoft, S & Newport, L (2012). Hydraulic fractures: How far can they go? Marine and Petroleum Geology 37(1): 1-6.
  • Davies, R. J. Thatcher, K. E., Armstrong, H. Yang, J. & Hunter, S. (2012). Tracking the relict bases of marine methane hydrates using their intersections with stratigraphic reflections. Geology 40(11): 1011-1014.
  • Wright, K.A., Davies, R.J. & Jerram D., Morris J. (2011). Application of Seismic and Sequence Stratigraphic Concepts to a Lava-fed Delta System in the Faroe-Shetland Basin, UK and Faroes. Basin Research 24(1): 91–106.
  • Davies, R.J., M. Manga, M. Tingay & R. Swarbrick (2011). Discussion: Fluid transport properties and estimation of overpressure at the Lusi mud volcano, East Java Basin (Tanikawa et al 2010). Engineering Geology v. 121: p. 97–99.
  • Neagu, R.C. Cartwright, J., Davies R.J. & Jensen L. (2011). Fossilisation of a silica diagenesis reaction front on the mid-Norwegian margin. Marine and Petroleum Geology v. 27 : 2141-2155
  • Ireland, M.T., Goulty, N.R. & Davies, R.J. (2011). Influence of stratigraphic setting and simple shear on layer-bound compaction faults offshore Mauritania. Journal of Structural Geology 33: 487-499.
  • Davies, R.J. & Ireland, M.T. (2011). Initiation and propagation of polygonal fault arrays by thermally triggered volume reduction reactions in siliceous sediment. Marine Geology v 289: p. 150-158.
  • Davies R.J. (2011). Methane contamination of drinking water caused by hydraulic fracturing remains unproven (Discussion). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108(43): E871.
  • Roberts K.S., Stewart S. Davies R.J. & Evans R.J. (2011). Sector Collapse of Mud Volcanoes, Azerbaijan. Journal of the Geological Society London (168 ): 49-60.
  • Roberts K.S, Davies R.J., Stewart S.A. & Tingay, M. (2011). Structural controls on mud volcano vent distributions: examples from Azerbaijan and Lusi, east Java. Journal of the Geological Society 168(4): 1013.
  • Richardson, S. Davies R.J., Allen M.B. & Grant S.F. (2011). Structure and Evolution of Mass Transport Deposits in the South Caspian Basin, Azerbaijan, Basin Research. Basin Research 23(6): 702–719.
  • Maloney D., Davies, R.J., Imber, J., King, S. & 2012 (2011). Structure of the footwall of a listric fault system revealed by 3D seismic data, Basin Research. Basin Research 24(1): 107–123.
  • Davies, R.J., Mathias, S.A., Swarbrick, R.E. & Tingay, M. (2011). The Lusi mud volcano, East Java: how long will it last? Journal of the Geological Society 168: pp. 1–7.
  • Ireland, M.T., Davies, R.J., Goulty, N.R. & Moy, D.J. (2011). Thick slides dominated by regular-wavelength folds and thrusts in biosiliceous sediments on the Vema Dome offshore of Norway. Marine Geology 289(1-4): 34-45.
  • Wall, M., Cartwright, J.,, Davies, R. J. & McGrandle, A. (2010). 3D seismic imaging of a Tertiary Dyke Swarm in the Southern North Sea, UK. Basin Research 22: 181-194.
  • Lentini, M. R., Fraser, S. I. Sumner, S., Davies, R. J. (2010). Geodynamics of the central South Atlantic conjugate margins: implications for hydrocarbon potential. Petroleum Geoscience 16: 217-229.
  • Ireland, M.T., Davies, R.J., Goulty, N.R. & Carruthers, T.D. (2010). Heterogeneity in silica diagenetic reaction zones revealed by 3D seismic reflection data from offshore Norway. Sedimentology
  • Higgins, S, Clarke, B. Davies, R.J. & Cartwright J. (2010). Internal geometry and growth history of a thrust-related anticline in a deep water fold belt. Journal of Structural Geology
  • Neagu C., Cartwright J.A. & Davies, R.J. (2010). Measurement of diagenetic compaction strain from quantitative analysis of fault plane dip. Journal of Structural Geology
  • Davies R. J. & Clarke A. L. (2010). Methane recycling between hydrate and critically pressured stratigraphic traps, offshore Mauritania. Geology 38(11): 963-966.
  • Maloney D., Davies, R.J., Imber, J., Higgins, S. & King, S (2010). New insights into deformation mechanisms in the gravitationally-driven Niger Delta deepwater fold and thrust belt. AAPG Bulletin 94(9): 1401-1424.
  • Roberts, K.S., Davies, R.J., Stewart, S. A. (2010). Structure of exhumed mud volcano feeder complexes, Azerbaijan (p ). Basin Research
  • Huuse,M. Jackson, C. A-J. Van Rensbergen,P., Davies, R. J. Flemings, P. B., Dixon., R. J. (2010). Subsurface sediment remobilization and fluid flow in sedimentary basins: an overview. Basin Research
  • Davies, R.J., Manga M, Tingay, M., Lusianga, S. & Swarbrick, R (2010). The LUSI mud volcano controversy: Was it caused by drilling?’ Discussion of Sawalo et al 2009. Marine and Petroleum Geology
  • Meadows, D. & Davies, R.J. (2010). The suitability of silica diagenetic boundaries as isothermal markers: Examples from Offshore Sakhalin, Russian Far East. Marine and Petroleum Geology
  • Briggs, S.E., Cartwright, J. & Davies, R.J. (2009). Crustal structure of the deepwater west Niger Delta passive margin from the interpretation of seismic reflection data. Marine and Petroleum Geology 26: 936-950.
  • Davies, R.J., Ireland, M.T., Cartwright, J.A. (2009). Differential compaction due to the irregular topology of a diagenetic reaction boundary: a new mechanism for the formation of polygonal faults. Basin Research 21(3): 354-359.
  • Alves, TM, Cartwright, J & Davies, RJ (2009). Faulting of salt-withdrawal basins during early halokinesis: Effects on the Paleogene Rio Doce Canyon system (Espirito Santo Basin, Brazil). AAPG Bulletin 93(5): 617-652.
  • Higgins, S., Clarke, B., Davies, R.J. & Cartwright, J. (2009). Internal geometry and growth history of a thrust-related anticline in a deep water fold belt. Journal of Structural Geology 31: 1597-1611
  • Wall, M.L.T., Cartwright, J., Davies, R. J. (2009). Reply to discussion on ‘An Eocene age for the proposed Silverpit Impact Crater'. Journal of the Geological Society 166(issue 6): 1159-1160.
  • Abidin, HZ, Davies, RJ, Kusuma, MA, Andreas, H & Deguchi, T (2009). Subsidence and uplift of Sidoarjo (East Java) due to the eruption of the Lusi mud volcano (2006-present). Environmental Geology 57(4): 833-844.
  • Briggs, SE, Davies, RJ, Cartwright, J & Morgan, R (2009). Thrusting in oceanic crust during continental drift offshore Niger Delta, equatorial Africa. Tectonics 28: 16.
  • Heino, P. & Davies, R.J. (2009). Trails of depressions and sediment waves along submarine channels on the continental margin of Espirito Santo Basin, Brazil. Geological Society of America Bulletin 121: 698-711.
  • Wall, MLT, Cartwright, J & Davies, RJ (2008). An Eocene age for the proposed Silverpit Impact Crater. Journal Of The Geological Society 165: 781-794.
  • Davies, R.J., Goulty, N.R. & Meadows, D. (2008). Fluid flow due to the advance of basin-scale silica reaction zones. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America 120(1-2): 195-206.
  • Davies, RJ, Brumm, M, Manga, M, Rubiandini, R, Swarbrick, R & Tingay, M (2008). The East Java mud volcano (2006 to present): An earthquake or drilling trigger? Earth And Planetary Science Letters 272(3-4): 627-638.
  • Evans, RJ, Stewart, SA & Davies, RJ (2008). The structure and formation of mud volcano summit calderas. Journal Of The Geological Society 165: 769-780.
  • Tingay, M, Heidbach, O, Davies, R & Swarbrick, R (2008). Triggering of the Lusi mud eruption: Earthquake versus drilling initiation. Geology 36(8): 639-642.
  • Higgins S., Davies R.J. & Clarke B. (2007). Antithetic fault linkages in a deep water fold and thrust belt. Journal of Structural Geology
  • Evans, RJ, Davies, RJ & Stewart, SA (2007). Internal structure and eruptive history of a kilometre-scale mud volcano system, South Caspian Sea. Basin Research 19(1): 153-163.
  • Davies, RJ & Cartwright, JA (2007). Kilometer-scale chemical reaction boundary patterns and deformation in sedimentary rocks. Earth And Planetary Science Letters 262(1-2): 125-137.
  • Heiniö, P. & Davies, R.J. (2007). Knickpoint migration in submarine channels in response to fold growth, western Niger Delta. Marine and Petroleum Geology 24: 434-449
  • Meadows, D. & Davies R.J. (2007). Morphological development of basin-scale silica diagenetic fronts revealed with two-dimensional seismic reflection data: offshore Sakhalin, Russian Far East. Geological Society, London 164: 1193-1206.
  • Evans, R.J., Stewart, S.A., Davies, R.J. (2007). Phase-reversed seabed reflections in seismic data: examples related to mud volcanoes from the South Caspian Sea. Geo-marine Letters 27(2-4): 203-212.
  • Davies R.J., Huuse, M., Hirst, P. & Cartwright, J. (2006). Clastic intrusions primed by silica diagenesis. Geology 34: 917-920.
  • Davies R.J. & Clark I. (2006). Continental slope failures primed and triggered by silica diagenesis: A case study based upon 3D seismic data analysis. Basin Research 18: 339-350.
  • Heinio P. H. & Davies, R. J. (2006). Fold degradation complexes in compressional belts: A case study of the deepwater toe-of-slope of the Niger Delta.
  • Briggs, S.E. Davies, R.J., Cartwright & J., Richard Morgan (2006). Multiple detachment levels and their control on fold styles in the compressional domain of the deepwater west Niger Delta. Basin Research 18: 435-450.
  • Stewart, S.A. & Davies, R.J. (2006). Structure and emplacement of mud volcano systems in the South Caspian Basin. Bulletin of the American Associaton of Petroleum Geologists 90: 753-770.
  • Davies R.J (2005). Differential compaction and subsidence in sedimentary basins due to silica diagenesis: A case study. Geological Society of America Bulletin 117(9-10): 1146-1155.
  • Davies, R. J. Stewart, S. A. (2005). Emplacement of giant mud volcanoes in the South Caspian Basin: three-dimensional seismic reflection imaging of root zones. Journal of the Geological Society 162: 1-4.
  • Davies R. J. & Posamentier, H. W. (2005). Geologic processes in sedimentary basins: inferred from three-dimensional seismic imaging. GSA Today 4-9.
  • Davies R. J., MacLeod C. J., Morgan, R. & Briggs, S. E. (2005). Termination of a fossil continent-ocean fracture zone imaged with three-dimensional seismic data: The Chain Fracture Zone, eastern Equatorial Atlantic. Geology 33(8): 641-644.
  • Davies, R.J., Cartwright, J.A., Stewart, S.A., Lappin, M. & Underhill, J.R. (2004). 3D seismic technology application to the exploration of sedimentary basins. Geological Society of London Special Publication Memoir 29: 1-9.
  • Davies, R.J., Cloke, I.R., Cartwright, J.A., Robinson, A.M. & Ferrero, C. (2004). Post break-up compression of a passive margin and its impact upon the hydrocarbon prospectivity An example from the Tertiary of the Faeroe-Shetland Basin, UK. AAPG Bulletin 88-1: 1-20.
  • Trude, K.J., Cartwright, J.A., Davies, R.J. & Smallwood, J. (2003). A new technique for dating igneous sills. Geology 31: 813-816.
  • Davies, R.J. (2003). Kilometer-scale fluidization structures formed during early burial of a deep-water slope channel on the Niger Delta. Geology 31(11): 949-952.
  • Davies, R.J. & Cartwright, J.A. (2002). A fossilised Opal A to C/T transformation on the northeast Atlantic margin. Basin Research 14: 467-486.
  • Davies, R.J., Bell, B., Cartwright, J.A. & Shoulders, S. (2002). Three-dimensional seismic imaging of Paleogene dike-fed submarine volcanoes from the northeast Atlantic margin. Geology 30(3): 223-226.
  • Davies, R.J., Cartwright, J.A., Pike, J. & Line, C. (2001). Early Oligocene initiation of North Atlantic Deep Water formation. Nature 410(6831): 917-920.
  • Davies, R.J., Turner, J.D. & Underhill, J.R. (2001). Sequential dip-slip fault movement during rifting: A new model for the evolution of the Jurassic Trilete North Sea Rift System. Petroleum Geoscience 7: 371-388.
  • Davies, R.J., Cartwright, J.A. & Rana, J. (1999). Giant hummocks in deep-water marine sediments: Evidence for large-scale differential compaction and density inversion during early burial. Geology 27: 907-910.

Journal papers: popular

  • Davies R.J. Swarbrick, R.E., Evans, R.J. & Huuse, M. (2007). Birth of a mud volcano: East Java, 29 May 2006. GSA Today 17: 4-9.

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