Dr Billy Andrews

Dr Billy Andrews

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Fault Analysis and Earthquake Hazard

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

I joined the University of Plymouth in March 2021 as a Post Doctoral Researcher working with Zoë Mildon on her project "Quake4D - building physics-based, geologically-rich models for investigating earthquake interaction and seismic hazard". My research is focused on fault zone heterogeneity, fault and fracture networks, and subsurface uncertainty. 


March 2021 - PDRA working with Zoe Mildon on her FLF Quake4D Project.

2020-2021: PDRA working with Zoe Shipton and Rebecca Lunn on the NERC funded project "Migration of CO2 through North Sea Geological Carbon Storage Sites: Impact of faults, Geological Heterogeneities and Dissolution. 

2020: Consultant geologists for the University of Strathclyde Estates Office to assess the feasibility of a mine water heating scheme beneath university grounds. 

2016–2020: PhD at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Thesis title "The effect of lithology, sub-bed scale heterogeneities, and mechanical stratigraphy on fault and fracture properties in coal bearing sequences", EPSRC funded, supervised by Prof Zoe Shipton and Dr Richard Lord. 

2016: Research internship with Geoff E Lloyd. Project title "Critical analysis of EBSD derived grain size and its use in paleo-piezometry and strain rate estimation."

Roles on external bodies

Postgraduate representative for the Tectonics Studies Group (2017–2019).

Research interests

I am an applied structural geologist with a strong interest in the role of fault and fracture networks on sub-surface applications (e.g., CCS) and geo-hazards, with a particular focus on earthquakes and modern day groundwater flow. Additionally, I have a strong interest in the role of objective and subjective uncertainties in geological data collection, and how this propagates through to geological interpretations. 

During my PhD I used detailed field observations, topological sampling, and photogrammetry to characterise the internal structure of fault zones, and the connectivity of fault-fracture networks, in mechanically stratified rock masses. At a larger scale I used data from multiple sources (e.g., boreholes, mine plans, published geological maps and memoirs, and 2D seismic), combined with my field observations to better understand the geometry and evolution of faults within the UK Coal Measures. In the latter part of my PhD, and post-PhD consultancy work, I applied this knowledge, and combined this with my knowledge of coal mines, to investigate the elements and uncertainties within the mine water reservoir for mine geothermal energy projects. Specifically, I am interested in how uncertainties in post-mining conditions will impact the resource potential of a target mine, and how the risk of these uncertainties may be incorporated into the feasibility stage of a schemes development. 

My work on the Quake4D project will build on my expertise in subsurface uncertainty, fault structure, and network connectivity to constrain the 3D geometry of inactive extensional systems and quantify subsurface linkage relationships between neighbouring fault strands. This research will be combined with geological field data collected from the Italian Apennines and used to provide inputs for earthquake cycle modelling.

Grants & contracts

2020: Funding to complete a mine feasibility assessment for the University of Strathclyde Estates Office: Following the successful completion of the pre-feasibility study, funding was won to further this work from the estates office. Value = £17,000.

2020: EPSRC NPIF innovation placement: Funding to work with a local SME as an Environmental consultant and undertake research into "De-risking mine water geothermal energy: Forecasting the internal structure of abandoned coal mine workings from site-specific data". Value £3,752.

2018: Geological Society of London Research Grant: Competitively awarded research grant to cover fieldwork and associated lab costs for a collaborative project titled "Classifying lithological and sedimentological controls on fault and fracture networks in the UK Carboniferous Coal Measures. Value = £875. 

2018: Travel bursary from the Tectonics Studies Group to attend YORSGET2018. Value = £200

2016: University of Strathclyde Student Excellence Award. Competitively awarded PhD scholarship with full fees, stipend and research costs covered. Value = £66,560.


Andrews, B. J., Roberts, J. J., Shipton, Z. K., Bigi, S., Tartarello, M. C., and Johnson, G. 2019. How do we see fractures? Quantifying subjective bias in fracture data collection, Solid Earth, 10, 487–516, https://doi.org/10.5194/se-10-487-2019.

Andrews, B. J., Shipton, Z. K., Lord, R., and McKay, L. 2020. The growth of faults and fracture networks in a mechanically evolving, mechanically stratified rock mass: a case study from Spireslack Surface Coal Mine, Scotland, Solid Earth, 11, 2119–2140, https://doi.org/10.5194/se-11-2119-2020.

Andrews, B. J., Cumberpatch, Z. A., Shipton, Z. K., Lord, R. 2020. Collapse processes in abandoned pillar and stall coal mines: Implications for shallow mine geothermal energy, Geothermics, Volume 88, 101904, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geothermics.2020.101904

McKay, L., Shipton, Z.K., Lunn, R.J., Andrews, B., Raub, T.D. and Boyce, A.J., 2020. Detailed internal structure and along-strike variability of the core of a plate boundary fault: the Highland Boundary fault, Scotland. Journal of the Geological Society, 177(2), pp.283-296, https://doi.org/10.1144/jgs2018-226

Reports & invited lectures

Feb 2020: Invited speaker at a BGS/BSRG Workshop on Geothermal Research Directions (Lyell Centre): Presented "A sedimentological approach to classifying mine wastes: Implications for shallow mine geothermal energy". 

April 2018: Invited presentation to the Tectonics and Fluid Chemistry Laboratory, University of Sapienza: Presented "The role of mechanical stratigraphy on the growth of faults in the UK Carboniferous Coal Measures". 

Other academic activities

Peer reviewed for Journal of Structural Geology, Solid Earth, Journal of the Geological Society.