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Dr Tiago Alves

Dr Tiago Alves


School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

+44 (0)29 2087 6754
1.57A, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Available for postgraduate supervision



  • Marine Geology and Geophysics
  • CCS, GeoEnergy and Petroleum Geology
  • Environmental studies of continental shelves and slopes
  • Sequence stratigraphy & structural evolution of sedimentary basins
  • Basin analysis with emphasis on deep-water margins
  • Palaeoceanography

I am a Marine and Petroleum Geologist with extensive field and offshore experience. Carbon sequestration, GeoEnergy, marine environmental aspects and classical petroleum E&P are key themes of my research. I am an active member of the Energy Systems University Research Institute (ESURI) at Cardiff:

I lead the 3D Seismic Laboratory, where I use a range of datasets to understand how sedimentary basins on continental margins evolve from early rifting to their 'passive' and 'subduction' phases. I undertake project and consultancy work, including environmental studies concerning hydrocarbon-bearing regions and areas posed for GeoEnergy solutions, some of which leading to the supervision of PhD projects sponsored by research councils and industry worldwide. Key study areas include (but are not restricted to): Canada, New Jersey, SE Brazil, Equatorial Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Africa, Gulf of Mexico, South China Sea, West Iberia, France, E Mediterranean, North Sea, West Shetland and Ireland, Norway, Barents Sea, Pakistan, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Section Editor in Structural Geology/Tectonics at Marine and Petroleum Geology (Elsevier)

Associate Editor at Marine Geology (Elsevier)

External Examiner at UiB (University of Bergen, Norway) - 2018-2021

First supervisor of 11 PhD projects (2012-19), 12 MESci theses (2008-2019) and one MSc dissertation (2018) to completion. Currently supervising 8 PhD projects.

Edited the Basin Research Special Volume on 'Deep-Water Continental Margins' in 2014 - Basin Research 26(1), pp. 3-9. (10.1111/bre.12053).

Editor of the Special Issue 'Continental Margins Unleashed' in Marine and Petroleum Geology (Final papers to be published by September 2020)

Participated in IODP Expedition 333 to SE Japan (Nankai Trough)

Research expeditions (cruises)

1999 - TTR9; Contourites offshore Portugal and mud volcanoes in the Gulf of Cadiz (Morocco)

2002 - TTR12; Sedimentary basins offshore the Azores, Atlantis Seamounts and Mid-Atlantic Ridge (Portugal)

2003 - R/V Pelagia cruise to the Nazaré Canyon and Prestige Site (Portugal and Spain)

2004 - R/V Charles Darwin cruise to the Setúbal, Cascais and Nazaré Canyons (Portugal)

2004 - R/V Aegeao cruise to Gulf of Corinth (Greece)

2004 - R/V Aegeao/HERMES cruise to the South Crete Canyons (Greece)

2005 - R/V Aegeao/HERMES to South Crete's transtensional basins (Greece)

2005 - R/V Urania/HERMES cruise to the Ionian Sea, South Crete and Rhodes coral reefs (Italy and Greece)

2006 - R/V Pelagia P336 cruise; Landslides in Northern Crete (Greece)

2010/11 - IODP Exp 333 to Nankai Trough; Landslides on tectonically active margins (Japan)

2016 - R/V L'Atalante-GRACO cruise; Gulf of Cadiz depositional systems (Spain)


  • Reader in Earth Sciences - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Cardiff University, UK (2018 - )
  • Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Cardiff University, UK (2015 – 2018)
  • Lecturer in Earth Sciences – School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Cardiff University, UK (2007 – 2015)
  • Research Fellow - Hellenic Centre of Marine Research, Athens (2006)
  • Postdoctoral Associate – EUROpean Deep-water Margins (EURODOM) project (EU), 2004-2006 (based at the Hellenic Centre of Marine Research, Athens)
  • Postdoctoral Associate – Geological and Mining Institute (Lisbon, Portugal), Marine Geology Department (2002-2003)
  • PhD – Basin Analysis and Petroleum Geology, University of Manchester, UK (2002)
  • BSc – Engineering Geology (5 years), Universidade Nova de Lisboa (1992-1997)

Honours and awards

Professional memberships

  • Geological Society of London
  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists
  • Geological Association of Canada
  • SEG - Society of Exploration Geophysicists

Committees and reviewing

  • Director for International Recruitment and Impact - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (2019- )
  • Deputy Leader for International Recruitment and Impact - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (2017-19)
  • Deputy Research Leader at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (2016-17)
  • Member of the Awards Committee - Geological Society of London (2014-2017)
  • PhD examiner - Manchester (x2), Leeds (x2), Keele, UCL, Plymouth, University of Western Australia, Aberdeen, Royal Holloway-University of London, University of Nicosia (Cyprus), Universidade Federal Fluminense (Brazil). MSc Examiner (Bergen)
  • Proposal reviewer for the NSF (USA), NERC (UK), DFG (Germany), Dutch Research Council (NWO), Irish Research Council (Ireland), Environment and Conservation Fund (Hong Kong), University of Nicosia (Cyprus) and Institute for Deep-Sea Science and Engineering (China).
  • Reviewer for more than 20 international scientific journals, including Geology, EPSL, Environmental Pollution, Ocean Engineering and other renowned publications.

























  • Petroleum Geology and Basin Analysis (Year 3) - Module leader
  • Advanced Stratigraphy and Sedimentology (Year 3)
  • Exploring Planet Earth (Year 1)
  • Engineering Geology (Year 3, teaching Reservoir Engineering)
  • Exploration Case Studies (Year 2)
  • Structural Techniques field trip (Year 2): N Spain
  • MESci field trip to SE Spain (Year 4)
  • Devon and Dorset field trip (Year 2). Penarth/Lavernock final degree field trip (Year 3).
  • Completed Modules 1, 2 and 3 of Cardiff's PCUTL - Postgraduate Certificate in University  Teaching and Learning in 2009.

I lead the 3D Seismic Laboratory at Cardiff University, supervising postgraduate students and managing research projects with industry, academia and governmental institutions. At Cardiff, I am closely involved in the supervision of PhD and MESci students, collaborating actively with Industry. Past and present collaborators include Total, Statoil, Petrobras (Brazil), Husky Energy, Repsol and Partex Oil and Gas, who supported several projects under the general theme of continental margins and basin analysis. I also collaborate with the IODP – Integrated Ocean Drilling Program in a number of projects, namely in Japan, Brazil and in USA's northeast margin. Key geographic areas being studied in the lab at the present include East Canada (Newfoundland, Labrador and W Greenland), the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (Crete and Levantine Basin), West Iberia (Portugal, Spain), NW Africa (Morocco, South Sahara and Canary Islands), UK and Norway, South China Sea (China), Ceará, Pernambuco, Santos and Espírito Santo Basins (SE Brazil), the Amazon Fan and Equatorial Brazil (South America), the Nankai Trough (SE Japan), Pakistan, New Zealand, Australia, West Africa (Angola, Nigeria, Namibia), Gulf of Mexico and Alaska (USA).

Postgraduate Supervision (completed PhD theses)

1. Davide Gamboa, PhD (2012) - Young Scientist Award 2012 (Geol Soc. London) - BGS-Wales, Now at IPMA, Lisbon.

2. Ricardo Pereira, PhD (2013) - PDO Oman, now a Senior Geologist at Partex Oil and Gas, Lisbon.

3. Duarte Soares, PhD (2014) - CGG in Llandudno, now at ITOPF in London working on oil spill mitigation.

4. Kamal'deen Omosanya, PhD (2014) - NTNU-Trondheim (Norway). Now a consultant for Industry.

5. Aldina Piedade, PhD (2016) - Now at University of Coimbra and ISCIA (Portugal).

6. Qin Yongpeng, PhD (2017) - Researcher at Institute of Deep-Sea Science and Engineering, Sanya (China).

7. Wei Li, PhD (2017, supervised at Uni Kiel, Germany) - Now a Professor at the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Guangzhou (China).

8. Nathalia Mattos, PhD (2017) - Fault reactivation and salt tectonics - Former PDRA at the 3D Seismic Lab. Now at UNICAMP's Petroleum Institute.

9. Nicholas Ward, PhD (2018) - Differential compaction in sedimentary basins - Now at Amazon, London.

10. Tao Ze, PhD (2018) - Crestal fault reactivation on rising salt diapirs - Now a PDRA at Wuhan's China University of Geosciences.

11. James Van Tuyl, MESci (2019) - Evolution of carbonate shelves in NW Australia - Now at CGG - North Wales.

12. Chantelle Roelofse (2020) - Fluid flow in sedimentary basins - Now at Shell-London.

13. Roberto Espejel - Structural controls on carbonate-platform growth - Started his Discussion section in December 2020.

14. Abubakar Maude - Compressional deformation in sedimentary basins - Started his discussion in April 2021.

15. Jing Song - Structural controls on submarine slope instability - Third paper due in early summer 2021.

Second supervisor of:

Daniel Carruthers (PhD on fault families on the flanks of diapirs) - Now at CGG - North Wales.

Bledyn Jones (KESS PhD scholarship on CO2 sequestration) - Now Project Geologist at Reynolds International Ltd.

Chris Kirkham (Mud Volcanoes in the Nile Delta) - Now a PDRA at the University of Oxford.

MESci theses

1. Adam Curtis, MESci (2008) - Geometry of channel-fill deposits

2. Sean Bale, MEsci (2012) - 3rd place at NEFTEX's Earth Model Award (2012) - Gas hydrate distribution in SE Japan

3. Phalene Gowling, MESci (2013) - Recognising fluid flow features in SE Brazil

4. Katherine Jawed, MESci (2013) - Salt tectonics in the Dutch North Sea

5. James Van Tuyl, MESci (2014) - Normal faulting in the Nankai accretionary prism (SE Japan)

6. Ben Thomas, MESci (2014) - Crestal faults of salt diapirs in the North Sea

7. Claire Elliott, MESci (2014) - The Atlantic breakup sequence in the North Sea

8. Sarah Newnes, MESci (2014) - Structural compartmentalisation of Rotliegend strata (Permian)

9. Victoria Howarth (2015) - Fluid flow through carbonate shelves

10. Bethany Cowling (2016) - Fault compartmentalisation of Posidonia Shales in the Southern North Sea

11. Luciana Ferreira (2017) - Simulation of a theoretical oil spill offshore Cyprus using MEDSLIK and comparison with SE Brazil

12. Charles Reynolds (2017) - Igneous intrusions in salt-rich basins

13. Nasser Al-Ismaili (2018; MSc Dissertation) - Tsunami risk in the Makran and SE Japan margins

14. Thomas Francis-Hughes (2021) - Polygonal fault systems in the Southern North Sea: Impacts on gas, oil and carbon-storage prospects

BSc project supervision:

CUROP programme 2012 - Kate Feetham (EARTH); Contourites on continental margins

CUROP programme 2018 - Sinead Goodall (CHEMY); Natural CO2 distribution in sedimentary basins

Jonathan Mattchet (2019) - CCS sites in Northern Norway

Megan Rayner (2019) - Fault analysis in the Dutch North Sea

Current PhD supervision:

Marco Azevedo - Structural evolution of Nankai's accretionary prism

Tomas Cupkovic - Evolution of N Atlantic rift basins

Olivia Walker - Jurassic ocean gateways of the North Atlantic

Roberto Espejel - Structural controls on carbonate-platform growth

Jing Song - Structural controls on submarine slope instability

Cerys Biancardi - Slope instability in salt-rich basins

Abubakar Maunde - Compressional deformation in sedimentary basins

Qiang Zhang - Fluid flow paths around salt diapirs


Current supervision

Song Jing

Research student

Cerys Biancardi

Cerys Biancardi

Research student

Olivia Walker

Olivia Walker

Research student

Roberto Loza Espejel

Roberto Loza Espejel

Research student

Marco Azevedo

Marco Azevedo

Research student

Chantelle Roelfse

Chantelle Roelofse

Research student

Abubakar Maunde

Research student


Impact to Industry

My research impact is based on the analysis of a wide range of data on continental margins around the world to highlight the economic benefits of drilling specific stratigraphic sequences and structures. My work has led to improved planning models developed by the industry, helping their decision-making process, staff training, and allowing a sustainable management of proven and potential resources.

Work at Cardiff’s 3D Seismic Laboratory develops key studies of multiple areas in the world, allowing the delivery of technical reports, presentations, and field training courses to Industry. The insights provided by Cardiff have led to widespread changes in exploration strategies for the companies sponsoring the 3D Seismic Laboratory, building upon the successful REF2014 CAPROCKS case study.

To date, my research undertaken has resulted in economic benefits of several millions of pounds for companies operating in multiple parts of the world.

Environmental and societal impacts

Environmental studies concerning hydrocarbon-bearing regions, and areas posed for GeoEnergy solutions, are another facet of my work. In the past eight years I have been involved in projects investigating the impact of oil spills in the Eastern Mediterranean (NEREIDs) and a broader analyses of marine polution, including plastic and floating debris, in coastal and marine areas of Europe (Sea4All). The deliverables resulting from Sea4All are now being implemented in classrooms across Europe.

In terms of my contribution to research and the society as a whole, I am a Section Editor in Structural Geology/Tectonics for Marine and Petroleum Geology and have been given the accolade of Oustanding Reviewer and Sustained Reviewer for Marine Geology in four consecutive years (2014/15 to 2018/19). I am also an assiduous reviewer for more than 20 international scientific journals, including Geology, Earth Science-Reviews and Nature Publication Group journals.

Sample publication list

Alves, T.M. et al. 2020. A tectono-stratigraphic review of continental breakup on intraplate continental margins and its impact on resultant hydrocarbon systems. Marine and Petroleum Geology 117, article number: 104341.(10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2020.104341)

Roelofse, C. et al. 2019. An integrated geological and GIS-based method to assess caprock risk in mature basins proposed for Carbon Capture and Storage. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 80, pp. 103-122. (10.1016/j.ijggc.2018.11.007)

Van Tuyl, J. et al. 2019. Geomorphological evidence of carbonate build-up demise on equatorial margins: A case study from offshore northwest Australia. Marine and Petroleum Geology 104, pp. 125-149. (10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2019.03.006)

Alves, T.M. and Abreu Cunha, T. 2018. A phase of transient subsidence, sediment bypass and deposition of regressive-transgressive cycles during the breakup of Iberia and Newfoundland. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 484, pp. 168-183. (10.1016/j.epsl.2017.11.054)

Alves, al. 2016. Multidisciplinary oil spill modeling to protect coastal communities and the environment of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Scientific Reports 6, article number: 36882. (10.1038/srep36882)

Ward, N., Alves, T. M. and Blenkinsop, T.G. 2016. Reservoir leakage along concentric faults in the Southern North Sea: implications for the deployment of CCS and EOR techniques. Tectonophysics 690(A), pp. 97-116. (10.1016/j.tecto.2016.07.027)

Alves, T.M. 2015. Submarine slide blocks and associated soft-sediment deformation in deep-water basins: A review. Marine and Petroleum Geology 67, pp. 262-285. (10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2015.05.010)