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Trinity College Dublin

Personal Information
College Photo Name Nicholas, Christopher John
Main Department Geology
College Title Assistant Professor
College Tel +353 1 896 2176
Details Date
Former Chief Geologist for Dominion Petroleum Ltd., now acting as Geological Advisor
Membership of Professional Institutions, Associations, Societies
Details Date From Date To
Member of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland 2011 2015
Member of the Science & Technology Committee, Royal Dublin Society 2009 onwards
Member of the Royal Dublin Society
Member of the Geological Society of Africa
Description of Research Interests
It is now widely recognised that the last of the World's large, 'easy' to produce oil discoveries have been made, yet the global demand for petroleum continues to increase. Consequently, there is now intense economic pressure from Governments to explore for hydrocarbons in more and more inaccessible terrestrial and marine regions of the globe. Success in this exploration is vital in order to prolong the planet's last oil and gas reserves and so ease the political and social transfer to renewable energy resources during the next fifty years. My research over the last ten years has gradually become concentrated on applying a multi-disciplinary geological approach to finding petroleum in developing regions which were previously thought to be uneconomic. A particular focus of study has become East Africa, which has the potential to yield large hydrocarbon reserves to developing countries desperate for their own energy sources. I have established a 'Tropical Geology & Exploration Group' in the Department of Geology at TCD, comprising a core of four PhD students and a Post-Doctoral Researcher. Their research is aimed at investigating the role of regional tectonics coupled with global climate change and how the interplay between them has controlled sedimentary basin fill architecture. Current projects are aimed at resolving Neogene to Recent structure and sedimentology on both western and eastern branches of the East African Rift System, modern inversion and contourites in deep offshore Tanzania, Karoo to Mesozoic rifting on the Tanzanian coast and tracking down outcrop equivalents of the subsurface Precambrian - Cambrian Ara reservoir carbonates in Oman. The group's primary approach is the application of field geology, supported by a variety of geochemical and geophysical techniques, to strip an area down into its component geological 'nuts and bolts' and through detailed field observation, data collection and laboratory analyses, piece it back together to build a comprehensive geological history. This work has a dual role to both Academia and the Petroleum Industry. We are currently operating in Tanzania, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sultanate of Oman and Java with support from Dominion Petroleum Ltd., Soco International Ltd., Petroleum Development Oman (Shell), the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department of the Ministry of Energy, Uganda and the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation.
Research Interests
Geological evolution of the East African Rift System Geological field surveying in frontier regions Mesozoic to Recent stratigraphy of Tanzania Petroleum exploration in East and Central Africa
Quaternary geology of Lake Edward, Uganda & DR Congo
Research Projects
Project title Sedimentary response to coupled East African climate change and active rifting in the Lake Edward basin, Albertine Rift, Uganda
Funding Agency Ministry of Energy, Uganda
Programme MSc. Research Studentship
Type of Project
Date from 2010
Date to 2012
Person Months

Project title Selous Basin Project
Funding Agency Dominion Petroleum Ltd
Type of Project Post-Doctoral Research Project
Date from 2007
Date to 2009
Person Months

Project title Geological evolution of the southern Tanzanian continental margin
Funding Agency European Science Foundation / IRCSET
Type of Project PhD Research Studentship
Date from 2007
Date to 2011
Person Months

Project title Stratigraphy and sedimentology of the Ara Group in outcrop and its implications for play development in the South Oman Salt Basin
Funding Agency Petroleum Development Oman/Shuram Oil & Gas
Type of Project PhD Research Studentship
Date from 2006
Date to 2010
Person Months

Project title Structural evolution and petroleum geology of the Mandawa Basin, southern coastal Tanzania
Funding Agency Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (with Dominion Petroleum)
Type of Project PhD Research Studentship
Date from 2006
Date to 2010
Person Months

More Research Projects>>>
Publications and Other Research Outputs
Peer Reviewed
Nicholas, C. J. and Gold, S. E. P., Ediacaran - Cambrian Sirab Formation of the Al Huqf region, Sultanate of Oman, GeoArabia, 17, (1), 2012, p49 - 98
Hellawell, J & Nicholas, C. J., Acid Treatment effects on the stable isotopic signature of fossils, Palaeontology, 55, (1), 2012, p1 - 10
TARA - Full Text
Pearson, P. N., van Dongen, B. E., Nicholas, C. J., Pancost, R. D., Schouten, S., Singano, J. M., Wade, B. S., Stable warm tropical climate through the Eocene epoch, Geology, 35, (3), 2007, p211 - 214
Nicholas, C. J., Pearson, P. N., Ditchfield, P. W., Singano, J. M. , Structural evolution of southern coastal Tanzania since the Jurassic, Journal of African Earth Sciences, 48, 2007, p273 - 297
Nicholas, C. J. and Pearson, P. N., Robert Jameson on the Isle of Arran, 1797-1799: in search of Hutton's 'Theory of the Earth', Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 287, 2007, p31-47-
More Publications and Other Research Outputs >>>

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Last Updated:22-SEP-2014