Imaging geological complexity to better understand fluid flow in the subsurface

Doctoral candidate Peter Betlem at the Department of Geosciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, is defending the thesis "De-risking top seal integrity - Imaging heterogeneity across shale-dominated cap rock sequences" for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

Disputation 20 October 2023

Trial lecture: 09:15-10:00
Disputation: 11:15

Want to attend the trial lecture and disputation virtually?

Popular scientific article about Betlem’s dissertation, first published at UiO:

The below-ground geological storage of CO2 is seen as an important component to the long-term reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. One of the difficult tasks is to find large storage locations with good seals (“roofs”) that prevent any stored CO2 from leaking back to the atmosphere. Leaking fluids typically follow fractures, cracks and more permeable (“open”) routes as they bypass rocks that are tighter. Such local variations contribute to geological complexity, and their study is important to geological CO2 storage. 

Time and place

The PhD defence and trial lecture will be held in Lassegrotta at UNIS 20 October from 09:15.

09:15-10:00 Trial lecture:
”The role of clays in CO2 storage reservoirs”
11:15 Disputation

This doctoral work revolved around the use of emerging digital technologies, computer models, and drones to investigate the impact of geological complexities on fluid flow in Svalbard.

Studies in Svalbard benefit from the archipelago’s unique outdoor laboratory that makes it exceptionally for analogue studies; Little vegetation makes for excellent outcrops, and a wealth of existing data can be integrated to solve complicated questions. Surface features are frequently used as analogues for “invisible” processes underground as they can more easily be catalogued and interpreted.

This doctoral work did precisely that and used detailed surface information to investigate the potential impact of geological complexity on the fluid flow below ground. The resulting findings were then used to assess the current state of fluid leakage in central Svalbard, aided by dedicated studies of gas leakage and gas hydrate occurrence in the fjords.

As Svalbard has a shared geological history with large parts of the Norwegian continental shelf, these findings are of regional importance.

A drone’s view of the geological structures at Midterhuken, Svalbard as acquired during the 2021 summer data acquisition campaign


Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo

Candidate contact information

Peter Betlem

Adjudication committee

Professor Clare Bond, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen

Director Malin Torsæter, Equinor Research Centre Rotvoll

Associate Professor Anders Mattias Lundmark, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo

Chair of defence

Department leader – Arctic Geology/Associate professor, Maria Jensen, The University Centre in Svalbard


Associate Professor Kim Senger, Department of Arctic Geology, The University Centre in Svalbard/UNIS

Professor Alvar Braathen, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo

Researcher Elin Skurtveit, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute/NGI, University of Oslo

Researcher Joonsang Park, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute/NGI

Professor Isabelle Lecomte, Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen

Associate Professor Kei Ogata, Department of Earth Sciences, Environment and Resources, University of Naples Federico II

Arctic Geology Disputations Press releases