Higher Degree by Research Application Portal

TitleNatural hydrogen production in fault zones: genesis, concentration and transport
SupervisorDr Nicolas Thebaud
Dr Laure Martin
CourseDoctor of Philosophy
KeywordsStructural Geology, Petrography, Isotope geochemistry
CategoriesHarnessing resources and energy for a sustainable future
Research areaEarth Sciences
Project description

Hydrogen will play a pivotal role in Australia's transition to a net-zero emissions energy future. Currently, hydrogen production involves two pathways: thermochemical and electrochemical. Thermochemical methods utilize fossil fuel feedstock, while electrochemical processes generate hydrogen and oxygen by splitting water using renewable energy resources. Although electrochemical production represents a smaller fraction of manufactured hydrogen, it shows promise for decarbonization. While the international exploration and production of natural hydrogen have grown significantly in recent years, our understanding of the system remains limited. Numerous countries, including France, Canada, Spain, Italy, Oman, Columbia, and Iceland, are experiencing a surge in hydrogen exploration permits and new discoveries. Australia, having recently been awarded over 25 exploration permits in South Australia, is well-positioned to join this global ‘hydrogen-rush’. In this investigation, we propose to combined fault analysis (structural geolody and geophysics) together with petrography and isotop geochemistry in order to characterize hydrogen reservoirs. This holistic approach will provide valuable insights both for (i) exploration and extraction of hydrogen from geological formations and (ii) the fundamental understanding of H2 evolution within the crustal environment.

Opportunity statusOpen
Open date05 Mar 2024
Funding source


SchoolGraduate Research School

Nico Thebaud


Specific project requirement

Applicants must be an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident, or a New Zealand Citizen.

Course typeDoctorates

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a program of independent, supervised research that is assessed solely on the basis of a thesis, sometimes including a creative work component, that is examined externally. The work presented for a PhD must be a substantial and original contribution to scholarship, demonstrating mastery of the subject of interest as well as an advance in that field of knowledge. 

Visit the course webpage for full details of this course including admission requirements, course rules and the relevant CRICOS code/s.

Duration4 years


Naturally occurring hydrogen reservoirs remain poorly understood yet may be of significant importance to support world wide energy transition. This project aims at unravelling the processes leading to natural hydrogen production within geological faults, combining petroleum system analysis with mineral system analysis.

Contact directly Nico Thebaud (nicolas.thebaud@uwa.edu.au) or Laure Martin (Laure.Martin@uwa.edu.au).

As soon as possible

Students intending to undertake a dissertation or thesis as part of a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) course at The University of Western Australia, are required to have acquired adequate research preparation, prior to being admitted into a course.

The University's Adequate Research Preparation Policy (UP11/25) details this requirement.

The policy broadly states:

  • An applicant is normally considered to have fulfilled the requirements for admission to a HDR course if they can demonstrate that they have undertaken supervised individual research in which they have designed and conducted a scholarly investigation in the context of an existing body of knowledge.
  • In exceptional circumstances, consideration may be given to applicants whose qualifications do not meet the definitions of adequate research preparation outlined in the policy (clause 4.1), where the school/supervisor believes that the applicant is likely to succeed in the course. In these circumstances, admission may be granted to a Masters Degree by Research in the first instance. 

To be successful, the student should have a core undergraduade training in geosciences. Experience in field base structural geology is essential whereas expeience in the study of metamorphic petrography and/or fluid inclusions is desirable.

Mineral exploration applied to hydrogen exploration and academic pathways.