Philip Ball is a Senior Honorary Researcher at the Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment, Keele University, and a Senior New Ventures Geologist at TOTAL E&P Americas.  Philip has gained international experience working with NOC’s, INOC’s, IOC’s and he also has experience working in established and start-up companies.  Today he attempts to support TOTAL's evolution to become a leading integrated energy company (IEC).  Philip studied Geology and History at Keele University, UK, between 1994-1998, and in 1998 he obtained dual honours (B.Sc.) degree.  Philip was awarded a Master degree (MSc) in Basin Evolution and Dynamics in 2000, and a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) in Earth Sciences, in 2005, at Royal Holloway University, UK.  In 2020, Philip completed his MBA, with distinction from the London School of Business and Finance, UK, with specializations in carbon management, entrepreneurship and innovation.  

Research and scholarship

My research interests over the last ~20 years have been focused on plate tectonics, conjugate rifted margins and their petroleum systems.  Due to my day-to-day activities much of my expertise evolved into the interpretation and exploration of rift basins and rifted margins. This translates towards an understanding of the spatial and temporal relationships between faulting, magmatism, hydrothermal alteration and sedimentation (i.e. source, seal and reservoir). 

My scientific interests have been driven by an interest to better understand the feedback between tectonics, rifting, volcanism, sedimentation, fluids (e.g. thermogenic, biogenic, abiogenic and hydrothermal fluid flow).  Since 2018 I have been actively researching into geothermal energy, innovation and emerging low-carbon energy technologies to understand how geoscientists can contribute to a low-carbon energy future.  

Further information


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Selected Research Highlights

  • 2017-Present: Magmatic evolution and tectonics of Newfoundland: Field, seismic and GPlates study of the Orphan Basin, Newfoundland. Key collaborators: Alex Peace (McMaster University) and Kim Welford (Memorial University). To date the project resulted in 1 published paper and several conference presentations. 

  • 2016-Present: Tectonics of Galicia and hyper-extended margins. 3D data recently acquired (2014) over the peridotite ridge and the distal margin of Galicia. Key collaborators: Dale Sawyer (Rice), Julia Morgan (Rice), Suzanne Picazo (Lausanne) collaboration is ongoing with respect to the formation of detachment faults, peridotite ridge emplacement and hydrothermal centres.

  • 2016-Present: Tectonics and petroleum systems of the Red Sea. Fully integrated project incorporating field/seismic, gravity/magnetic, sedimentological, igneous and sedimentary petrology, thermochronometry, chemostratigraphy, palaeoceanography, palaeoclimatology, geodynamics, thermomechanical modelling and plate tectonics. Project redefined critical aspects of rifted margin evolution and its impact on pre-syn and post tectonic petroleum systems. Key collaborators: Michael Montenari (Keele), Luc Lavier (UT-Austin), Bernhart Steinberger (Potsdam), Simon Klemperer (Stanford), Alex Peace (McMaster University) and Kim Welford (Memorial University). To date the project resulted in several conference presentations.

  • 2015-Present: Kinematics and thermomechanical modelling of the formation of oceanic transforms. An investigation into the origin and longevity of fracture zones using integrated thermomechanical models supported by kinematic observations from plate tectonics models (pyGPlates & GPlates). Key collaborators: Taras Gerya (ETH-Zurich), Sascha Brune (Potsdam), and Lui Lin (ETH-Zurich), Simon Williams (Sydney) and Noel Ammann (ETH-Zurich). To date the project resulted in 1 published paper and one conference presentation. 

  • 2013-2015: Rift domain mapping and petroleum systems: This project was an integrated study incorporating elements of: plate tectonics, the global interpretation of rifted margins and their rift domains, thermomechanical modelling, thermochronology gravity, magnetics, igneous and sedimentary petrology, stratigraphy, palaeoceanography, and palaeoclimatology.  This was a ConocoPhillips sponsored project that redefined critical aspects of rifted margin evolution and its impact on pre-, syn- and post tectonic petroleum systems. Key collaborators: Gianreto Manatschal (Strasbourg), Luc Lavier (UT-Austin), and Danny Stockli (UT-Austin), Suzon Jammes (Texas State University).  Much of the work remains confidential to ConocoPhillips. To date the project resulted in 1 published paper and one conference presentation. 

  • 2013-2015: Tectonics of the Mozambique Channel.  ConocoPhillips sponsored MSc project in collaboration with University of Houstonv(UoH). 3D gravity modelling, seismic interpretation, volcaniplate tectonics. Key collaborators: Stuart Hall (UoH), Dale Bird (UoH), Luan Nuygen (Rice).  The project resulted in 1 published paper and several conference presentations.

  • 2009-2012 – Integration of 3D gravity inversion and 3D seismic reprocessing workflows, Gulf of Mexico.  At Statoil, Bernd Lahmeyer and Michael Ruder (Wintermoon Geotechnologies) developed workflows for the integration of FTG and vertical gravity field analysis in conjunction with 3D PSDM migrations within the Gulf of Mexico. Statoil Proprietary, unpublished.  The project resulted in a one conference presentation.

  • 2006-2009 – Plate tectonics of Jan Mayen, Norwegian Sea: (Statoil).  Plate modelling, gravity and magnetic analysis and seismic interpretation.  The project was based on research completed within Statoil and collaboration with NGU Norway. Key collaborators: Carmen Gaina (Oslo), Laurent Gernigon and Gwenn Peron Pinvidic (NGU), Suzanne Picazo (Lausanne). The project resulted in 4 published papers and several conference presentations.

  • 2001-2005 – PhD study (RHUL): Break-up history and evolution of the southern passive margin of Australia. Project collaboration with GA, Canberra, Australia.Seismic interpretation, potential field (gravity and magnetics) modelling and interpretation, plate tectonics. Key collaborators: Cindy Ebinger (Tulane), Ken McClay (RHUL), Graeme Eagles (AWI), Jennie Totterdel (GA), Alexey Goncharov (GA). The project resulted in the publication of a PhD thesis and one published paper and several conference presentations.

School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
William Smith Building
Keele University