Sedimentary rocks are formed from particles eroded from older rocks, from minerals precipitated from water and/or from biogenic materials, such as shell fragments. They cover over 70% of the surface of the earth, and may host significant resources such as hydrocarbons, minerals and water.

Our research aims to develop new insight into the dynamics of sedimentary environments, how surficial sediments become incorporated into the rock record and how applied and industrial workflows can be informed by fundamental research. We are active across seven continents, looking at modern and ancient environments and working on deserts, rivers, shallow seas and deep-marine settings. Our research embraces fieldwork and associated laboratory studies, experimental modelling and associated analysis, numerical modelling, seismic data analysis and metadata analysis.

Our research themes include: clastic sediment transport, including eolean, shear flow and gravity current processes and post depositional re-mobilisation; volcaniclastic systems; tectonics and sedimentation; carbonate environments.

We work in the Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, a NERC-recognised facility. We are affiliated with Petroleum Leeds and Energy Leeds.

Current areas of research

• Eolian processes and their deposits
• Fluvial processes and their deposits
• Lahars
• Submarine gravity currents (debris flows, turbidity currents hybrid flows) and their deposits, including channel and lobe formation
• Injectites
• Bedform dynamics
• Tectonics and sedimentation
• Carbonate platforms and ramps
• Architectural and diagenetic controls on reservoir quality
• Palaeoenvironments
• Palaeoenvironmental controls on source to sink transfer;
• Sequence stratigraphic methods
• Source rock characterisation
• Placer mineral deposition

Much of our research is conducted via Joint Industry Projects, which are oil industry-funded research consortia.

Current projects funded by industry

Further information

View all members of our research group and our recent projects and publications.

PhD projects

We have opportunities for prospective postgraduate researchers. Find out more.

Contact us

If you would like to discuss an area of research in more detail please contact the Research Group Lead: Professor Bill McCaffrey.