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Department of Earth Sciences

Current Postgraduate Students

Miss Catherine Hirst

PhD. Student in the Department of Earth Sciences
Room number: Open Plan Area

Contact Miss Catherine Hirst (email at


2012: Dearman Trophy & Prize for Best Student in Engineering Geology, Newcastle University


2002-2006: MSci (Hons) Geology, Bristol University (2:1)
2006-2008: Environmental Geologist, IKM Consulting
2008-2011: Geotechnical Engineer, Fugro Engineering Services
2011-2012: MSc Engineering Geology, Newcastle University (1st)
2012-current: PhD - Assessing the UK's low enthalpy geothermal resources with specific focus on deep sedimentary basins (BP sponsored), Durham University 

PhD Research

This project is designed to look at the low enthalpy geothermal resources of UK, with specific focus on deep sedimentary basins. Geothermal energy is a non-intermittent low carbon resource which is estimated to have the potential to decarbonise the UK heating requirement for a century. Furthering our understanding of geothermal systems within the UK is therefore of high importance.

The aims of this project are to identify and evaluate the thermal, hydrogeological and hydrogeochemical performance of deep sedimentary basins within the UK. This is to be achieved by assessing existing well record data held by the oil and water industries, and also through using data from existing geothermal projects in the UK (Southampton). The type of data to be collected will include temperature and flow data (both from geophysical logging and direct measurement in open boreholes), aquifer property data (permeability, porosity, transmissivity), and geochemical data from water samples. Ultimately, a quantitative model to describe the aquifer system in question will be produced using the above data, which will help us to better understand fluid circulation (and therefore heat distribution) within heterogeneous aquifer systems. This will better constrain potential geothermal target aquifers.

Work Experience

After completing my first degree i moved into the contaminated land industry and worked as an environmental geologist. This gave me a broad grounding in site investigation and report writing on contaminated land projects. I gained a lot of experience in writing Phase I, II and III reports as well as hands on site experience. Much of this was undertaken at Grangemouth Oil Refinery, Grangemouth, Scotland.

I then moved into geotechnical contracting, fulfilling the role of geotechnical engineer at Fugro Engineering Services for several years. This predominantly site based role built up an extensive understanding of onshore drilling, logging, insitu testing and data processing. In addition I gained some nearshore/offshore drilling experience. I worked on projects predominantly across the UK, with one foray to Australia in 2011.

Research Groups