Dr Philip Ball

Title: Honorary Senior Research Fellow
Location: c/o William Smith Building : WS 1.12
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I was awarded an honorary senior research fellowship, within the school of Geography, Geology and the Environment, October 2017.  I studied Geology and History at Keele University, UK, and in 1998 I obtained dual honours (B.Sc.) degree.  I obtained a Master degree (MSc) in Basin Evolution and Dynamics at Royal Holloway University, UK, in 2000, with a seismic reflection based study on the “structural analysis of the Erris High and the east flank of the Rockall Trough, offshore NW, Ireland”, and a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) in Earth Sciences, with a study on the break-up history and evolution of the southern passive margin of Australia, 2005.  After a brief post-doc research position at NGU, Trondheim, Norway, I was lured by Statoil, into the oil and gas industry.  Since 2005 I have worked, around the world, as a senior geologist and geoscience specialist for Statoil, ConocoPhilips, ONGC and Saudi Aramco.  I currently work for Saudi Aramco, and I split my time between the Strategy and Portfolio Optimisation Team (SPOT) and the Red Sea Exploration Team.

My research interest over the last ~15 years has been focused on plate tectonics, conjugate rifted margins and petroleum systems. Through global study, aided by industry and academic seismic reflection and refraction datasets, I have developed expertise on the interpretation of rift basins and rifted margins. In particular, my research has evolved to focus on the study of deformation processes associated with lithospheric stretching, necking, coupling of brittle-ductile layers, and the exhumation of crustal and lithospheric mantle rocks during rifting. This translates towards an understanding of the spatial and temporal relationships between faulting, magmatism, hydrothermal alteration and sedimentation (i.e. source and reservoir). Strongly linked to the evolution of rifts and passive margins I have developed integrated collaborations that incorporate, thermomechanical modelling, stratigraphy, chemostratigraphy, thermochronology, paleobathymetry, geochemistry, paleoceanography and palaeoclimatology driven by an interest and need to better understand the feedback between rifting, volcanism, sedimentation and climate.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 2013-2015: Tectonics of the Mozambique Channel.  ConocoPhillips sponsored MSc project in collaboration with University of Houston. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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: Gianreto Manatschal (Strasbourg), Nicolo Incerpi (Torino), Danny Stockli (UT-Austin), Luc Lavier (UT-Austin) Suzanne Picazo (Geneva), Bernhart Steinberger (Potsdam), Simon Klemperer (Stanford).
  • 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) Gael Lymer (Birmingham) collaboration is ongoing with respect to the formation of detachment faults, peridotite ridge emplacement, hydrothermal centres and future IODP drilling proposals.
  • 2017-Present: Magmatic evolution and tectonics of Newfoundland: Field and seismic based study of the Orphan Basin, Newfoundland. Key collaborators: Alex Peace (Memorial University).

Obrist-Farner, J., Ball, P.J., Rogers, R. and McGilvery, M.A., (2017). Inherited Paleobathymetry and Its Control on Shelf-Margin Accretion and Distribution of Turbidite Sands, Madagascar. Basin Research

Obrist-Farner, J., Ball, P.J., McGilvery, M.A., Rogers, R. (2017). A Prograding Margin during Global Sea Level Maxima – An Example from Mahajanga Basin, Northwest Madagascar. Basin Research. DOI: 10.1111/bre.12270

Ammann, N., Liao, J., Gerya, T. and Ball, P.J, (2017). Oblique continental rifting and long transform fault formation: 3D thermomechanical numerical modelling. Tectonophysics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2017.08.015

Nguyen, L., Hall, S., Bird. D. and Ball, P.J., (2016). Rigid and non-rigid plate reconstruction of the East Africa and Antarctic continental margins. Journal of Geophysical Research.

Ball, P. J., Eagles, G., Ebinger, C. J., McClay, K. R., and Totterdell, J., (2013). Analysis of the Great Australian Bight Margin: temporal and spatial evolution of rifting. G-Cubed. DOI: 10.1002/GGGE.20160.

Peron-Pinvidic, G., Gernigon, L., Gaina, C. and Ball, P.J, (2012). Insights from the Jan Mayen system in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, Paper II: Structural Evolution of a micro-continent. Geophysical Journal International.

Peron-Pinvidic, G., Gernigon, L., Gaina, C. and Ball, P.J, (2012). Insights from the Jan Mayen system in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, Paper I: Architecture of a micro- continent. Geophysical Journal International.

Gernigon, L., Gaina, C., Olsen, O., Ball, P.J., Peron-Pinvidic, G. and Yamasaki, T., (2012). The Norwegian Basin revisited: From continental breakup to spreading ridge extinction? Marine and Petroleum Geology.

Gaina, C., Gernigon, L. and Ball, P.J., (2009). Paleocene-Recent plate boundaries in the NE Atlantic and the formation of the Jan Mayen Microcontinent. Geological Society London.

Ball, P.J., 2005. Break-up history and evolution of the southern passive margin of Australia

Royal Holloway, University of London.


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