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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Igneous Reservoirs: Controls on Porosity and Permeability

Currently Active: 

Igneous rocks are becoming increasingly recognised as viable petroleoum reservoirs, with recent discoveries including the Miocene Minami-Nagaoka gas field in the Niigata basin, Japan, the Early Tertiary Padra oil field in India, and various Jurassic fields within the Austral basin of southern Argentina. Similar to a conventional petroleum system, igneous rocks may act as reservoirs if all the elements of a source rock, a migration path and a trap are in place. We are particularly interested in investigating the controls upon porosity and permeability development within these unconventional lithologies.

3D Visualisation of vesicular porosity within basalt
3D visualisation of porosity


Microfocus X-Ray Computed Tomography provides unprecedented insights into the three-dimensional structure of rocks on the micrometre scale. We integrate this technique with petrophysical and geochemical laboratory methods to ascertain the development of pore networks within a variety of igneous rocks.






Volcaniclastic rocks from Tenerife - field observations upon flow morphology and fracture distribution
Tenerife volcaniclastic rocks

Key Questions

  1. How do igneous rocks preserve porosity and permeability?
  2. What is the relationship between alteration and petrophysical rock properties?
  3. How significant is scale to the characterisation of igneous porosity and permeability?

Key Contacts

Miss Colette Couves (Postgraduate research student)

Prof Steve Roberts (Supervisor)

Dr Angus Best (Supervisor)

PhDs and Other Opportunities


Associated research themes

Volcanic Processes

Hydrothermal Processes and Mineral Deposits

Related research groups

Geology and Geophysics
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