Present-day state of tectonic stress in the Australian continent

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Dr Mojtaba

Knowledge of the present-day crustal stresses is essential for understanding geodynamic processes such as earthquakes and global tectonics. It is also a key control on the stability of all underground openings and management of geo-reservoirs. The present-day stress pattern of the Australian continent has been the subject of scientific debate for over 30 years. The most recent analyses of in-situ stress in the Australian continent revealed massive spatial perturbations on the orientation of maximum horizontal stress. However, there are still lots of questions about the causes and consequences of present-day stress field in the Australian continent.

One of the most significant obstacles in developing a detailed understanding of tectonic stress in Australia is that almost all the in-situ stress data for the continent only shows the stress orientation and, hence, does not describe the full 3D stress tensor that defines the stress state at a point with six independent components (i.e. stress magnitudes and orientation). This stress magnitude information is critical for neotectonic deformation, subsurface resource utilisation and any model calibration. Therefore, this lack of stress magnitude information precludes any geomechanical model calibration to understand the controls on in-situ stress field of Australian continent. This PhD project aims to analyse in-situ stress magnitudes using wellbore data, and to construct 1D to 3D geomechanical models using state-of-the-art numerical tools, at different scales, to understand the causes and consequences of present-day stress field in the Australian continent.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of the interpretation of geophysical logs and/or analysis of in-situ stress using wellbore data would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of geology, petroleum engineering or geophysics and the potential for scholastic success.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

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