Laurence Cowton


2013 - Now, PhD, "Monitoring sub-surface storage of carbon dioxide", University of Cambridge
2009 - 2013, MSci Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge


Cowton, L. R., J. A. Neufeld, N. J. White, M. J. Bickle, J. C. White, and R. A. Chadwick (2016), An inverse method for estimating thickness and volume with time of a thin CO2-filled layer at the Sleipner Field, North Sea, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 121, 5068–5085, doi:10.1002/2016JB012895.


Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA) at American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2015

1st Prize, 2013 Neftex Earth Model Award, "Buoyancy Driven Plumes in Porous Media: Implications for CO2 Sequestration at the Sleipner Project"

Current Research

My current research is focused on developing monitoring and modelling techniques for geological CO2 storage reservoirs. I use seismic reflections surveys and numerical flow simulations to investigate the migration of CO2 through sub-surface reservoirs. In particular, my research is focused a time-lapse (4D) seismic reflection survey acquired over the Sleipner Carbon Capture and Storage Project, North Sea. Here, CO2 has been injected at a rate of 1 Mt CO2 per year since 1996 into the Utsira Formation at roughly 1000 m depth. By exploiting changes in sub-surface reflectivity between time-lapse seismic reflection surveys, I have developed a technique to measure the thickness of the uppermost CO2-saturated layer within the reservoir.

The overall aim of my research is to understand the key processes that control the migration of CO2 through these reservoirs. This work has led to the development of a computationally efficient numerical model that can accurately simulate CO2 flow through the uppermost reservoir at Sleipner. I aim to use this simulator in conjunction with measurements of the CO2 distribution at Sleipner to constrain key properties about the aquifer, and predict future flow within this reservoir.

I am also working on analytical and numerical models to describe the fluid dynamics of buoyant fluids spreading in aquifers of variable confinement.