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The Drifters Research Group

The Drifters Research Group

The Drifters Research Group - Department of Earth Sciences

Our main interest is on deep-water marine processes to assess the role of bottom-currents on sedimentation.

So far our research has focussed on:

  • Seismic characteristics on contourites
  • Sedimentologic and Ichnological characteristics of contourites
  • Modern processes immediately above the sea floor (the benthic boundary layer).
  • Mixed / Hybrid systems (turbidites + bottom current deposits)
  • Gateways & Paleoceanograhic changes
  • Numerical models
  • Bottom currents, contourites & geohazards

This group consists of 21 researchers including 4 staff, 5 post-doctoral researchers, 11 PhD students and 1 MRes student, as well as 25 direct collaborating researchers from other UK and overseas institutions and companies.

The group is developing successful research collaborations with other top-ranked research centers in the field in the UK, Europe and worldwide and has had significant and sustained impact on knowledge transfer in the discipline as well as through research projects and public engagements


Joint Industry Project (JIP)

Seismic recognition and sediment characterisation of deep-water contourites and reworked turbidites deposits

“The Drifters Research Group” routinely collaborate with high-profile industry partners who fund much of our cutting-edge work. Currently, we are leading a Joint Industry Project (JIP) about Contourites between academia and industry on the characterisation of deep-water sandy deposits funded by a consortium of companies for the period 2017-2020.

This JIP seeks to bring existing knowledge and relevance of contourite systems firmly into the industrial domain, as well as to further fill the scientific gaps in our knowledge and improve understanding. We consider this as an essential ingredient for any company working in deep-water.

  • Launch date: End of 2017.
  • End date: 2020

Funded by TOTAL, ENI, BP, ExxonMobil, Wintershall and Spectrum/TGS

The JIP is open for new companies. Please contact us if you are interested.

Group link for data sharing.



INPULSE is studying how Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW) is affecting the seafloor, bedforms, type of substrate and associate habitats in the Gulf of Cadiz.

Download the interactive PDF here.

Project SCORE

SCORE is searching the sedimentary facies in sandy deposits drilled in the IODP 339 in the Gulf of Cadiz

  • Dr F. Javier Hernández-Molina (Seismic analysis, Sedimentology)
  • Dr. Domenico Chiarella (Sedimentology, Seismic stratigraphy, Core and well log analysis)
  • Dr David Waltham (Computer modelling)
  • Dr Nicola Scarselli (Subsurface imaging & evaluation)
  • Dr. Javier Dorador (Ichnology. Newton International, RHUL, 2018-2020)
  • Dr. Anxo Mena (Sedimentology, paleoceanography, Univ. Vigo / RHUL, 2017-2020)
  • Dr. Shaoru Yin (Seismic analysis, Oceanography, Sedimentology, South China Sea, Second Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, China / RHUL, 2017-2018)
  • Dr. Wei Zhou (Mounded drifts, Antarctica & Canadian margins, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu, China / RHUL, 2019-2020)


  • Adam Kirby, PhD  (Contourites, Seismic criteria JIP, 2018-2021)
  • Antoine Thieblemont, PhD (Contourite, Mozambique Channel & Uruguay. Funded by TOTAL, 2016-2020)
  • Arwed Gibb, PhD (Microfacies, Eocene-Oligocene calcareous contourites, Cyprus, Greifswald Univ., 2019-2023)
  • Chantal Bower, MRes (Neogene basins evolution, Moroccan margin. 2019-2020)
  • Debora Duarte, PhD (Basin analysis and recent tectonic, Gulf of Cadiz & Morocco, FCT Fellow, 2017-2020)
  • Niamh McGovern, PhD (Contourites, Porcupine Basin, 2017-2025)
  • Olmo Miguez Salas, PhD (Ichnological analysis of contourites, Univ. Granada, Spain, 2018-2020)
  • Oscar Felipe Marin, MSc (Sedimentary evolution through the Cretaceous in the Northern Carnarvon Basin, NW Australia, RHUL, 2019)
  • Oswaldo Mantilla, PhD student (Basin Analysis and deep-water deposits, NW Australia, Funded by ECOPETROL, 2017-2020)
  • Sandra de Castro, PhD (Sandy contourites, Sedimentologic criteria in modern environments, JIP, 2017-2020)
  • Sara Rodrigues, PhD (Mixed System, modern environments & ancient MSc student record, JIP, 2017-2020)
  • Tatiana Glazkova, MRes (The Discovery Gap, Central Atlantic. 2019-2020)
  • Thomas Howlett, MSc (Cenozoic deep water seismic facies associations in the Northern Carnarvon Basin, NW Australia, RHUL, 2019)
  • Wouter de Weger, PhD (Sandy contourites, Sedimentologic criteria in the ancient record, JIP, 2017-2020)
  • ZhiLin Ng, PhD (Sedimentary evolution, Gulf of Cadiz & Morocco, RHUL, 2017-2020)

2019. Alex Mason, PhD (Paleostraits, South Italy. RHUL, 2017-2019)

2018. Robert Morgan. MSc (Contourites features, offshore Namibia, RHUL, 2018)

2018. Adrien Mergnat. MSc (Contourites features, offshore Madagascar, RHUL, 2018)

2018-2019. Nicholas Belcher, MRes (Bedfoms and trace fossils, GRACO project, Gulf of Cadiz. 2018-2019)

2017. Leona Hyslop. MSc (Gravitational Processes & Products along Contourite Terraces in the Uruguayan margin during the Palaeogene & Neogene. Theoretical implications on Hydrocarbon Exploration, RHUL, 2017)

2016. Sataphon Suklap. MSc (Microfacies Analysis of Turbidites and Sandy Contourites from the Lefkara Formation (Cyprus): Sedimentary Characteristics  and implication as reservoir, RHUL, 2016)

2016. Jun Sasamura. MSc (Late Miocene to Present Sedimentary Stacking Pattern in the Algarve Basin (south of Portugal): Implications on Hydrocarbon Exploration, RHUL, 2016)

2016. Jamie Beagle. MSc (Present stratigraphic evolution of the Alentejo Basin (SW Portugal): conceptual implications on hydrocarbon exploration, RHUL, 2016)

2016. Brian Docherty. MSc (From hemipelagic deposits through silty to coarse grained sandy calcareous contourites (Lefkara Fm. Cyprus): implication for HC exploration, RHUL, 2016)

2016-2017. Edwards Evans, MRes (Analysis of quarts grains on sandy contourite deposits in the Gulf of Cadiz: sedimentological implications. 2016-2017)

2015. Valini Kisson. MSc (Stratigraphic and tectonic evolution of the northern Gulf of Cádiz, RHUL, 2015)

2015. Scott Campbell. MSc (Sedimentary stacking pattern from the Eocene and Oligocene in the Uruguayan Margin, RHUL, 2015)

2015-2016. Claudia Jons, MRes (Sandy contourite deposits in the Gulf of Cadiz: sedimentological aspects and its evolutionary implication with the Gibraltar Gateway. 2015-2016)

2014. Abdulai Salifu Nantogmah. MSc (Middle Miocene to present evolution of the Punta Del Este Basin, Uruguay Margin, RHUL, 2014)

2014-2018. Adam Creaser, PhD (Contourites, Late Cretaceous, Uruguayan Continental Margin, Funded by BG, 2014-2018)

Adolfo Maestro (IGME, Madrid, Spain)
Adriano R. Viana (Petrobras, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Amine Manar Mohamed (ONHYM, UK)
Ashley Clarke (BP, UK)
Calvin Campbell (Geological Survey of Canada-Atlantic Lands and Minerals Sector, Canada)
Carlota Escutia (CSIC, Granada, Spain)
Cristina Roque (EMEPC / IDL –Instituto D. Luiz, Lisbon, Portugal)
David Van Rooij (Ghent University, Gent, Belgium)
Dirk Adelmann (Wintershall dea, Germany)
Dmitry Borisov (Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia).
Dorrik A. V. Stow (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Elda Miramontes (Faculty Geosciences, Univ. Bremen, Germany)
Eleanor J. Stirling (BP, UK)
Estefania Llave (IGME, Madrid, Spain)
Evgenia Dorokhova (Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia)
Fernando Bohoyo (IGME, Madrid, Spain)
Francisco J. Rodríguez-Tovar (Univ. Granada, Spain)
Francisco J. Sierro (University of Salamanca, Spain)
François Raisson (TOTAL SA, France)
Giancarlo Davoli (Eni SpA Upstream and Technical Services, Milano, Italy)
Guillermo Frances (Univ. Vigo, Spain)
Héctor de Santa Ana (ANCAP, Uruguay)
Heiko Huneke (Universität Greifswald, Germany)
Jon Rotzien (Basin Dynamics LLC & University of Houston, USA).
Joris T. Eggenhuisen (Utrecht Univ., The Netherland)
Juan Fedele (ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, Houston, Texas, USA)
Karyna Rodriguez (TGS, Woking, UK)
Lara F. Pérez (BAS, UK)
Luis Miguel Fernández-Salas (IEO, Cadiz, Spain)
Marco Fonnesu (Eni SpA Upstream and Technical Services, Milano, Italy)
Marga García (CSIC, Granada, Spain)
Marta Pérez-Arlucea (Univ. Vigo, Spain)
Michele Rebesco (OGS, Italy)
Neil Hodgson (TGS, Woking, UK)
Rachel Brackenridge (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Rachel Flecker (University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)
Rene Winter (BP, UK)
Robert Larter (BAS, UK)

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