Researcher Profile

Jackson School of Geosciences

Peter B Flemings

Peter B Flemings
Jackson Chair in Geosystems, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences
Research Scientist, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences

Work: +1 512 475 8738, +1 512 475 9520
Office: JGB 5.318, ROC 2.116F
Mailcode: C9000
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Flemings' research couples observation with theoretical analysis to study crustal fluid flow at human and geologic timescales. He explores classical questions such as:

1) What is the relationship between faulting, pressure, and stress?
2) What is the permeability of the shallow crust and how does it vary with stress and pore pressure?
3) How is continental margin morphology controlled by fluid flow?
4) How do hydrocarbons move at both geological and production time scales?
5) What is the mechanism by which gas and oil vents form?
6) How are methane hydrate deposits generated?
7) How do we predict pore pressure in basins?
8) Under what conditions will blowouts form?
9) How can we design and drill safe and economic wells?

Dr. Flemings works closely with the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), studies fluid pressure in the Nankai Accretionary Prism and helped develop a pore pressure penetrometer for ocean drilling. He leads an industry-supported research consortium (UT GeoFluids) that combines geomechanical modeling, experimental analysis, and field study to study pore pressure and fluid flow in basins. He is fascinated by methane hydrates, and his research group simulates them in the lab and models their formation. Most recently, Dr. Flemings is leading a new initiative to drill methane hydrates in the Gulf of Mexico. Finally, his team studies the permeability and deformation of mudstones in the GeoMechanics laboratory.

Areas of Expertise

Stratigraphy, basin analysis, basin-scale fluid flow, pore pressures in seafloor sediments, submarine landslides, oil and gas migration, methane hydrates, Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP)

Current Research Programs & Projects

UT GeoFluids Consortium: Pressure, Stress and Geologic Evolution in the Gulf of Mexico

Controls on Methane Expulsion During Melting of Natural Gas Hydrate Systems: Topic Area 2

SUTUR – Mechanisms of Gas Flow in Shale

Select Past Research

Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, Gulf of Mexico: Expedition 308, Gulf of Mexico Hydrogeology

Chair: 2nd Gordon Research Conference on Hydrates - Gordon Research Conference (2011)

Informal Advisor to Energy Secretary S. Chu's BP Macondo Well Integrity Team - BP Macondo Well Integrity Team (2010)

Vice Chair: 1st Gordon Research Conference on Hydrates - Gordon Research Conference (2010)

Keynote Speaker/ Co-Convener, 'Subsurface sediment mobilization and fluid flow' - Geological Society, London. (2008)

JOI-USSAC Distinguished Lecturer - JOI-USSAC (2007 - 2007)

Keynote Speaker and Co-Convener - Geological Society, London (2007 - 2007)

Kavli Fellow and Speaker - Humboldt Foundation Frontiers of Science Symposium (2006 - 2006)

AAPG Distinguished Lecturer - American Association of Petroleum Geologists (2006 - 2006)

G. Montgomery and Marion Mitchell Award for Innovative Teaching - Pennsylvania State University, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (2003 - 2003)

Best Paper Award - Computers and Geosciences (2001 - 2001)

Geological Society of America Fellow - Geological Society of America (1997 - 1997)

Matthew J. and Anne C. Wilson Outstanding Teaching Award - Pennsylvania State University, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (1996 - 1996)

Best Paper, J.C. Cam Sproule Memorial Award - AAPG Bulletin (1995 - 1995)

Shell Faculty Fellow - Shell (1994 - 1997)

Crosby Distinguished Lecturer - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1992 - 1992)

Best Paper Award - Mountain Geologist (1991 - 1991)

John McMullen Graduate Fellowship for academic record (1986 - 1986)

Visiting Research Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (2013)

Shipboard Scientist, JOIDES Resolution cruise (2012)

Convener, EarthScope-GeoPRISMS, EarthScope-GeoPRISMS Science Workshop for Eastern North America, Bethlehem, PA (2011)

Co-chair, GEOPRESSURE 2011, Galveston, TX, GEOPRESSURE 2011, Galveston, TX (2011)

Convener, EarthScope-GeoPRISMS, EarthScope-GeoPRISMS Opportunities in Eastern North America, Mini-Workshop, Austin, TX, May 2011 (2011)

Convener, EarthScope, EarthScope National Meeting, Austin, TX, May 2011 (2011)

Meeting Organizer, UT GeoFluids, UT GeoFluids Industrial Affiliates Meeting, Austin, TX, Feb. 2011 (2011)

Chair, Gordon Research Conference, 2nd Gordon Research Conference in Gas Hydrates (2011 - 2012)

Co-Convener, Rifting Margins, Rifting Margins Workshop, Nov. 2010 (2010)

Member, GeoPrisms, GeoPrisms Steering Committee (2010 - 2012)

Vice Chair, Gordon Research Conference, 1st Gordon Research Conference in Gas Hydrates (2010 - 2011)

Member, Science Proposal Writing Committee—Margins, Science Proposal Writing Committee—Margins (2010)

Member, The Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee (An Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Energy), The Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee (An Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Energy) (2010 - 2012)

Member, Organizing Committee, International Conference on Geopressure (Galveston, 10/4/2011) (2010)

Chair, Sed Erg, Jackson School (2009)

Chair, Energy Theme Search Committee, Jackson School (2009)

Member, IT Search Committee, Department of Geological Sciences (2009)

Chair, Graduate Studies Committee, The Unviersity of Texas (2009 - 2012)

Member, Appointments Committee, Jackson School (2009 - 2013)

Member, Endowment Committee, Jackson School (2009 - 2011)

Member, IODP Board of Governors, IODP Board of Governors (2009 - 2011)

Chair, Ad Hoc Department Computing Committee, Department of Geological Sciences (2008 - 2009)

Chair, Schoch Building Move Committee, Department of Geological Sciences (2008 - 2009)

Member, UTIG Director Search Committee (UTIG), UTIG (2008 - 2009)

Graduate Adviser, Dept. of Geological Science, Jackson School (2008 - 2012)

Member, Colorado School of Mines Department of Geological Engineering Review Committee, Colorado School of Mines Department of Geological Engineering Review Committee (2008 - 2011)

Member, Departmental Endowed Position Committee, Department of Geological Sciences (2007 - 2009)

Member, Energy Theme Search Committee, Jackson School (2007 - 2009)

Chairperson, IODP Engineering Development Panel (2005 - 2008)

Co-Chief Scientist, IODP Expedition 308, Gulf of Mexico Hydrogeology (2005)

Convener, Downhole Tools Workshop, JOI-USSAC supported workshop (2004)

Director, GeoFluidsIII Consortium (2004 - 2008)

Associate Editor, Geofluids (2003 - 2006)

Shipboard Scientist, JAMSTEC KR03-05 data recovery cruise, Yokohama, Japan (2003)

Shorebased Scientist, ODP Leg 204 (2003)

Member, AAPG Research Committee (2003 - 2006)

ACORK Specialist, Ocean Drilling Program data recovery cruise (2002)

Director, GeoFluidsII Consortium (2002 - 2004)

Co-Chair, American Geophysical Union Session in Dynamics of Gas Hydrate Reservoirs and Similar Shallow Marine Flow Systems (2001)

Logging/CORK Specialist, Ocean Drilling Program Cruise, Leg 196 (2001)

Member, Interim Science Steering and Evaluation Panel for the Environment (2001 - 2002)

Chair, American Association of Petroleum Geologists Session in Geopressure and Trap Integrity (2000)

Participant, Ocean Drilling Program (ODP)-Industry workshop (1999)

Participant, National Science Foundation Special Sedimentary Geosciences Workshop (1999)

Member, JOI Pollution Prevention and Safety Panel (1999 - 2002)

Participant, Ocean Drilling Program (ODP)-Industry workshop (1999)

Manager, GeoFluids and GeoSystems Office (1999 - 2008)

Liaison, Departmental Industry Recruiting Program (1999 - 2007)

Leader, Gas Research Industry Workshop (1998)

Director, Penn State Time-Lapse Seismic Consortium (1998 - 2001)

Director, Penn State GeoFluids Consortium (1998 - 2001)

Logging Scientist, Ocean Drilling Program Cruise, Leg 174A (1997)

Member, Scientific Measurements Panel of the Ocean Drilling Program (1997 - 2000)

Associate Editor, Basin Research (1996 - 2011)


Kehua You
Kehua joined UT Geofluids as a postdoctoral fellow in June 2013. She earned her Ph.D. in geology from Texas A&M University in 2013, and her B.S. in environmental sciences from University of Science and Technology of China in 2008. She specializes in theoretical and computational hydrogeology, contaminant hydrology and reservoir simulation. Her primary research interest lies in fluid flow and transport in subsurface environment.

Athma R Bhandari
I earned my Ph.D. (Geomechanics and Geotechnical Engineering) from University of Southampton, M. Eng degree in Civil Engineering (Applied and Rock Mechanics) from the University of Tokyo, and B. E. degree in Civil Engineering from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. My research aims to advance our understanding of deformation and fluid flow behavior in porous media. I develop novel laboratory measurement techniques and experimental methodologies. In my current research, I measure mudrocks (shales) porosity and permeability under reservoir pore and confining pressure conditions to predict their behavior through production life cycle and help inform optimal production strategies for shale reservoirs.

Stacey Worman
The Earth is a fascinatingly beautiful place and I learned years ago that my mind is perhaps the best vessel to be able to travel it with. During my graduate years, I gained extensive experience building analytical, numerical, and statistical models of chemical, physical, and biological processes that address targeted geological questions. This allowed me to collaborate with talented scientists and brilliant thinkers on a diverse array of problems including the formation of hydrogen gas in oceanic lithosphere, the self-organization of enigmatic sand dune patterns, and the coupled relationship between vegetation and erosion rates in the desert. At UTIG, I'm honing my empirical capacities and am gaining experience collecting and analyzing geophysical and geological data. I am currently working on the seismic characterization of the methane hydrate system near the Mad Dog Field in the Gulf of Mexico. This is part of a larger, DOE sponsored effort to better understand the genesis and resource potential of coarse grained hydrate deposits. I earned a Ph.D. in Earth & Ocean Sciences from Duke University (2015) where I was a James B. Duke Fellow and I also hold a M.S. in Environmental Engineering (2010) and a B.S. in Chemistry and Economics (2006), both from Vanderbilt University.

Stephen C Phillips
Steve's overall interest is in understanding in marine sediment deposition and early diagenesis on continental margins. Much of his research utilizes interdisciplinary approaches using sedimentology, biogeochemistry, mineralogy, and physical properties in ocean drilling records. His current research involves characterizing and synthesizing methane hydrates. Prior to arriving at UT, he earned a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of New Hampshire, an M.S. in Earth Sciences from the University of New Hampshire, and a B.S. in Geology from Michigan Technological University.

Julia S. Reece, 2012 - 2013

Graduate Students

Baiyuan Gao, Ph.D., expected 2017 (Supervisor)
Baiyuan is currently applying geomechanical models to study thin-skinned fold and thrust belts system. The research will further our understanding of stress, strain and compaction behaviors in fold-and-thrust belts. Baiyuan also aims to comp up with an improved approach to predict pore pressure in compressional regions.

Dylan W Meyer, Ph.D., expected 2017 (Supervisor)
My research is centered around methane hydrate stability and gas migration mechanisms in submarine sediments on continental slopes around the world. I have been working on determine the thermodynamic phase state of the hydrates within these sediments to gain understanding into the formation of these hydrate-systems as well as the sensitivity of these systems to fluctuating in situ conditions. This research is important for three reasons: a) Methane hydrates are an important potential energy resource for countries all around the world. b) Global climate change could potentially dissociate much of these hydrate systems, releasing massive amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere and compounding the affects of global warming. c) The release of free gas into the near-subsurface could increase to frequency and severity of submarine landslides.

Kristopher N Darnell, Ph.D., expected 2017 (Supervisor)
I am interested in the fluid dynamics of surface and crustal processes. My research combines observational data with computational methods to understand how well theory predicts natural systems. I previously worked on Glaciology and contributed to various projects on supraglacial hydrology and iceberg dynamics. I'm currently working on gas hydrates. My project focuses on multiphase flow and its application to climate and production within hydrate reservoirs.

Francis W M Pinkston, M.S., expected 2017 (Supervisor)
Will’s research focus is the state and evolution of pore pressure at the Macondo prospect. Located 50 miles offshore Louisiana, the Macondo prospect is an oil reservoir roughly 18,000 feet below sea level and is the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident. Rapid sedimentation in this region of the Gulf of Mexico resulted in extreme overpressures. He plans to synthesize well-log data, 3D seismic interpretation, and pore-pressure measurements to characterize and explain the pore fluid regime.

Andrea Nolting, Ph.D., expected 2017 (Committee Member)
Carbonate Sedimentology & Sequence Stratigraphy, Carbonate Rock Properties, Geo-mechanical Modeling. Research is focused on steep-rimmed carbonate shelf systems, specifically the timing and controls behind shelf margin syndepositional deformation.

Landon Lockhart (Supervisor)
Landon's research focuses on characterizing stress and pressure at the Mad Dog field in deepwater Gulf of Mexico. He is using a combination of data, which include direct pressure measurements and drilling records in order to predict pore pressure across the field.

Sebastian Ramiro Ramirez (Supervisor)

Michael Cronin, M.S., 2015 (Supervisor)
University of Texas at Austin
Michael studied core-scale gas transport experiments and the numerical modeling of gas transport in fractured gas shales. His interests included geomechanics, reservoir engineering, unconventional resource plays, and rowing. After completing his degree, Michael accepted a full-time geologist position with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in The Woodlands, TX.

Jason Sanford, M.S., 2015 (Supervisor)
University of Texas at Austin
Jason's work focused on the geologic record of the Chicxulub asteroid impact in the Gulf of Mexico (with the Gulf Basin Depositional Synthesis Project) and the geomechanics of reservoir-scale sand injectites in the Panoche Hills of central California (with UT GeoFluids). Jason now works at Chevron as an exploration earth scientist in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

William Betts, M.S., 2014 (Supervisor)
The University of Texas
William studied consolidation and deformation of mudstones in the Nankai Trough area of offshore Japan. He joined Halliburton after graduation in 2014.

Yao You, Ph.D., 2013 (Supervisor)
University of Texas at Austin
Yao's work focused on quantitative modeling of crustal fluids and geomorphology. He studied failure in sand caused by breaching in subaqueous and submarine environments, and modeled the pore pressure in Ursa Basin using soil properties measured by the UT GeoFluids group. After completing his PhD, Yao joined Hess.

Michael Merrell, M.S., 2012 (Supervisor)
University of Texas at Austin
Michael's research focused on characterizing the pressure and stress at the Mad Dog field that lies directly below an allochthonous salt sheet along the Sigsbee Escarpment in deepwater Gulf of Mexico. He used logging data, direct pressure measurements, and drilling records to understand how the reservoir is segmented and how to predict pore pressure across the field. Upon completion of his M.S., he joined Conocophillips in Houston, TX.

Andrew Smith, M.S., 2012 (Supervisor)
The University of Texas
Andrew's work focused on the process of venting and associated hydrate formation at deepwater vents in the Gulf of Mexico. After completing his MS, he joined the marine geology and geophysics research group at the University of Tromsø in Norway as a Fulbright scholar.

Julia Schneider, Ph.D., 2011 (Supervisor)
The University of Texas
Julia's research focused on compression and flow behavior of mudrocks. As a PhD student and postdoctoral fellow in the UT GeoFluids group, she studied the effect of mineralogy and particle size on porosity, compressibility, permeability, and microstructure under geologic stresses. She used various mudrocks such as the Boston Blue Clay, Gulf of Mexico mudrock, and Nankai mudrock. Her work has implications in e.g. pore pressure predictions, seal capacity, and tight gas shales. Julia earned her Ph.D. in Geosciences from The University of Texas in 2011. Upon completion of her postdoctoral fellow position at UT in February 2013, she joined the Department of Geophysics at Stanford University as a postdoctoral researcher.

Derek Sawyer, Ph.D., 2010 (Supervisor)
The University of Texas
Derek studied sedimentation, deformation, and fluid flow on continental margins. Upon completion of his PhD, Derek, joined the Operations Geology group of ExxonMobil in Houston, Texas.

Hilary Strong, M.S., 2009 (Supervisor)
The University of Texas
Hilary's thesis focused on consolidation characteristics of mass transport complexes in the Ursa Region. Upon completion of her MS, she joined ExxonMobil as an Operations Geologist.

Advanced Pore Pressure Prediction Workshop: Concepts, Mechanisms and Workflows, Nautilus, Houston (2013)

Advanced Pore Pressure Prediction Workshop: Concepts, Mechanisms and Workflows, Nautilus, Houston (2012)

Gas Venting Through the Hydrate Stability Zone: observation and theory, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany (2012)

Advanced Pore Pressure Prediction Workshop: Concepts, Mechanisms and Workflows, Nautilus, Houston (2011)

Advanced Pore Pressure Prediction Workshop: Concepts, Mechanisms and Workflows, Nautilus, Norway (2011)

Offshore Active Processes and Hazards, RIE Lehigh conference, Bethlehem, PA (2011)

Capillary behavior of methane hydrates, Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Long Beach, Ca. (2011)

Sub-seafloor Oil-plume Containment: How can we preserve and build the required expertise to respond to large oil vents in the US waters? Is there a role beyond spill response?, National USGS Marine Geohazards Workshop, Pore Pressure and the Macondo Well, Menlo Park, CA (2011)

2016Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2016Spring GEO 330K Energy Exploration
2016Spring GEO 382D Crustal Geofluids
2016Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Geofluids
2015Fall GEO 291 Fire/Ice: Methane Hydr Geosys
2015Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2015Spring GEO 330K Energy Exploration
2015Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Geofluids
2014Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geofluids
2014Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Geofluids

Graduate and Post-Doctoral opportunities in GeoFluids Research Group (Graduate)
The GeoFluids Research Group has immediate opportunities for graduate and post-doctoral study. Dr. Flemings is most enthused by students who have a commitment to a doctoral program because that allows time to delve deeply into research. However, he also regularly accepts exceptional M.S. students into our research group. If you are interested, please e-mail, Peter Flemings (

Current Research Opportunities:

1. Hydrate Melting:
Examine the melting of methane hydrates in Arctic systems. DOE funded effort will examine the impact of warming over human time scales and longer. The project description is found here. We are looking for students and post-doctoral scientists with a fascination for marine geology and a yen for quantitative analysis of fluid flow.

2. Mass Transport in Shales:
Study transport processes in shale systems! You will perform permeability testing of shales (e.g. the Barnett, the Marcellus…) and develop multi-scale numerical models to describe mass transport within these systems. The work will include both laboratory analysis and sample characterization. This project is supported by Shell.

3. GeoPressure Analysis:
Study geopressure in sedimentary basins through our industry funded consortium UTGeoFluids. Dr. Flemings is always looking for students with a yen to characterize and model overpressure in sedimentary basins.

4. Mudrock Geomechanics:
Study the geomechanics of mudrocks through experimental analysis. This research is supported by UTGeoFluids. In this research, we analyze both intact samples (from industry and the ocean drilling program) and we synthetically create mudrocks. We ask fundamental questions such as:
How to mudrocks compact?
What is the permeability of mudrocks and how does it evolve?
What is the strength of mudrocks?