Professor Nigel Mountney

Professor Nigel Mountney


I am a geologist with specialism in sedimentology and stratigraphy. I obtained a BSc degree in Geology and Geography from the University of Nottingham (1990), an MSc degree in Computing in Earth Sciences from Keele University (1992), and a PhD from the University of Birmingham (1996). I am currently Professor of Sedimentology in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds. I am Founder and Director of the Fluvial, Eolian & Shallow-Marine Research Group (FRG-ERG-SMRG;, a joint industry project sponsored by a consortium of 17 companies and NERC. For 2014-2018, I was Chief Editor of Sedimentology, a leading academic journal. I am a Director of Research (Impact and Knowledge Exchange) in the School of earth and Environment at Leeds.


  • Director, Institute of Applied Geoscience.
  • Director and Principal Investigator, Fluvial & Eolian Research Group.
  • Director, Shallow-Marine Reearch Group.

Research interests

My research is primarily focussed on the application of sedimentological and stratigraphical techniques for determining the response of modern (active) and ancient (preserved) sedimentary systems to changes in external controlling parameters, such as climate change, sea-level change and tectonic basin evolution, as well as to intrinsic (so-called autogenic) system behaviour, such as river flooding and channel avulsion (episodic jumping of river position). I specialise in interpreting the environmental significance of fluvial (river), aeolian (wind-derived) and shallow-marine deposits, the aim being to better understand the evolution of these systems throughout earth history and to propose quantitative models with which to predict future behaviour in response to environmental change. Additionally, I work on lacustrine, glacial, volcanigenic and deep-marine systems, including carbonate systems. I specialise in developing quantitative models for the prediction of sedimentary architecture; such models are used to constrain and quantify rates of environmental change but also find application in predicting the characteristics of subsurface groundwater aquifers and reservoirs (e.g. modelling fluid-flow rates and pathways through different types of sedimentary rocks). I develop models to predict how best to inject carbon dioxide in liquid form into subsurface reservoirs for long-term carbon capture and underground storage (CCUS) storage solutions that are essential to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

I am the Founder, Director and Principal Investigator of the Fluvial, Eolian & Shallow-Marine Research Group (FRG-ERG-SMRG), a Joint Industry Project (JIP) that has attracted sponsorship from 17 international companies and research Councils (e.g. NERC). These ventures have enabled me to successfully fund and supervise over 45 postgraduate research studentship projects.

One major component of my research is in field-based data collection; I have undertaken and led fieldwork in >30 countries on 6 continents, often in extreme environments, such as the hyper-arid Namib Desert and sub-glacial rivers in Iceland. I also undertake numerical modelling work to predict sedimentary system response to changing environmental conditions. From an applied standpoint, forward stratigraphic models have been developed for predicting the impact of lithological heterogeneities at a range of scales. Such models help predict fluid-flow behaviour in groundwater aquifers and reservoirs. One branch of my research has developed a series of databases for the characterization of sedimentary deposits. Sedimentary architectural databases find application in quantifying rates of environmental change but are also used to predict the arrangement of subsurface deposits that form reservoir hosts for water, carbon dioxide and subsurface hydrogen storage. Such database-driven subsurface characterisation is also used to guide geothermal energy solutions. These databases (FAKTS, SMAKs and DASA) are the largest and most sophisticated databses of their type yet created. Research results arising from this research are fundamentally changing how we understand the development of fluvial successions.

I have published more than 150 research manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and special publications. My publications are primarily focussed on the science of sedimentology, stratigraphy and basin analysis. I publish on topics whereby sedimentological concepts and thinking are applied widely to research problems more generally. I have published in a wide range of leading international journals in the fields of sedimentology, stratigraphy, basin analysis, carbon capture and storage, numerical modelling, geomorphology, hydrology, hydrogeology, palaeoclimatology and palaeoecology. Thus, my research is both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. Many of my papers provide research outputs of commercial value; they find application to better predict subsurface lithological heterogeneity, groundwater aquifers, and for identifying possible sites for long-term underground storage of carbon via carbon capture and underground storage (CCUS) schemes, shorter-term storage of hydrogen to be used as a clean fuel source, and subsurface sites of potential geothermal energy. The database concepts outlined in Colombera et al. (2012, 2013, 2017) are used widely in industry for characterisation of fluvial reservoirs, for example.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Geology and Geephysics, University of Birmingham, UK (1996)
  • MSc, Computing in Earth Sciences, Keele University, UK (1992)
  • BSc, Geology and Geography, University of Nottingham, UK (1990)

Student education

I deliver taught courses in Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, Basin Analysis, Approaches to Geological Characterisation of the Subsurface, Numerical Modelling of Earth Surface Processes, Deserts and Desertification and Landform Response to Environmental Change. I am co-author of a research-led textbook, "Sedimentary Structures": Collinson, J.D. and Mountney, N.P. (2019) Sedimentary Structures. Dunedin Academic Press, Fourth Edition, 340 pages. ISBN 978-1780460628.

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute of Applied Geoscience
  • Geosolutions Leeds
  • Sedimentology

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>