I completed my geology degree at the University of South Wales and was later employed in a role in local government. But after a year, I found that I was missing my passion for geology, and after discussion with the geology academic staff, I enrolled on a one year full time Masters by Research. My research project, which I am funding through a Student Loan, gives me an opportunity to study in detail aspects of geology which align with my interests and my future career goals.
My project is focused on geothermal power, which can be generated through wells drilled into sequences of young volcanic rocks like basalts. Working with Dr Ian Skilling and Dr Duncan Pirrie, I have the opportunity to study samples from a geothermal well in Iceland in order to determine their properties. The volcanic rocks here comprise basaltic lavas, but also complex rocks known as hyaloclastites, which form when magma is erupted into ice, water or wet sediments. My project is looking at the controls on the porosity and permeability of the volcanic rocks through this geothermal well and the affect this has on geothermal energy production.
In my research I am using a state-of-the-art automated scanning electron microscope at the University of South Wales, whilst also being provided with analytical data from a specialist analytical company in Canada. Throughout the study I am not only able to indulge my passion in geology, but I am also able to develop new skills, which I hope that I can use in my future career.
Geothermal energy is of increasing importance during the transition to a low carbon future as any CO2 released can be reinjected into the production well, so that the power generated is carbon neutral. At the end of the year’s research, I will then complete a dissertation and hopefully also submit a paper for publication in a major international journal.
The Masters by Research has allowed me to build upon the skills I developed during my geology degree. Following the Research Masters I would like to pursue a career in a role related to my research or to continue my research in the form of a PhD.
Image from my undergraduate mapping project, the focus of which was on volcanic rocks similar to those I am researching as part of my MRes
Young volcanic rocks such as these basalts and hyaloclastites in Iceland can form reservoirs for geothermal energy
Volcanic rocks from Iceland; my work aims to understand the controls on the porosity-permeability of these rocks