In situ stress on the Arabian Plate


Project Description

The importance and value of mapping the present day in stress – both orientation and recently also magnitude – has been demonstrated by the World Stress Map (WSM) Project. Publications show that lithospheric in situ stress is controlled by the forces exerted at tectonic plate boundaries as well as gravity-induced deformation. The Arabian Peninsula is part of a small tectonic plate that is characterized by active and appreciable deformations along its boundaries: (i) extension, rifting, and seafloor spreading in the Red Sea; (ii) sinistral strike-slip faulting along the Aqaba-Dead Sea transform fault system to the northwest; (iii) convergence and continental collision along the Zagros and Bitlis suture to the north and northeast; (iv) oblique extension and dextral transform faults in the Arabian Sea to the southeast. Thus, knowledge of the present-day in situ stress field in the Arabian plate and its variability is critical for earth science disciplines in academia as well as industry and requires an understanding of geodynamic processes. Further, it is essential for a range of practical applications that include the production of hydrocarbons and geothermal energy, mine safety, seismic hazard assessment, underground storage of CO2, and more.

We are looking for a highly motivated bachelor or master student who will be responsible for conducting an extensive literature review of the present-day stress field on the Arabian Plate. The purpose is to compile a database that lists present-day in situ stress magnitudes and orientations as calibration points in an advanced numerical framework for plate deformation.

The successful candidate will have effective time management, the  ability to work self-dependent under direct guidance, and above average English skills (both writing and spoken).

Program - Energy Resources and Petroleum Engineering
Division - Physical Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Ali I. Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center
Field of Study - rock- and geo-mechanics; database building

About the

Thomas Finkbeiner

Research Professor, Energy Resources and Petroleum Engineering

Thomas Finkbeiner

​Prof. Finkbeiner investigates how in response to pore pressure changes in a field/reservoir (i.e., injection, stimulation, or depletion) the reservoir rocks respond mechanically and how this impacts flow (e.g., production) from the affected reservoirs. Monitoring, laboratory testing, as well as numerical modeling will provide an understanding and enhanced predictive capabilities for these phenomena for a variety of reservoir types such as fractured reservoirs (in particular carbonates), unconventional reservoirs, and so-called brown fields (that are produced using improved and enhanced recovery methods). Another focus is on wellbore stability (i.e., mechanical integrity of boreholes both during drilling and production/injection) and real-time data acquisition and risk mitigation. Guaranteeing successful well construction is paramount for cost reduction and optimizing well delivery. 
Prof. Finkbeiner is also involved in the university's circular carbon, geothermal, and Red Sea research initiatives and thrusts.

Desired Project Deliverables

Findings from this internship project will be integrated into the development of a data cube across the Arabian Peninsula.

We expect that this research will lead to publications, which the student can contribute to.

Prof. Dr Thomas Finkbeiner and a postoc will be involved in the day-to-day oversight of this project.