School of Earth and Environment

Catherine Burns

Postgraduate Researcher

Email address:
Room: G19 28 University Road

Affiliation: Institute of Applied Geoscience


I finished my Mgeol. in Geological Sciences at the University of Leeds, including a year exchange based at the University of Alberta, in 2013 and then continued at Leeds with the Fluvial and Eolian Research Group doing a field based PhD project in fluvial sedimentology.

Research Interests

Fluvial sedimentology is the main focus of my PhD, however collaborations with other sedimentologists has given me plenty of opportunities to work in projects tangential to my own research area: (i) Deep-water sediment bypass at base-of-slope, fieldwork in the Karoo basin, South Africa (Hannah Brooks, Leeds University); (ii) Deltaic-shallow marine transition in the Karoo basin, South Africa (Luz Gomiz, Manchester University); (iii) Flow structure at submarine channel bend apices in the Sorbey Environmental Dynamics lab ( Jeff Peakall, Gareth Keevil and Robert Dorrell, University of Leeds);(iv) Field-work based comparision of turbidite sequences in County Clare, Western Ireland and Pendle Hill, Lancashire (Joshua Khan, Kingston University).

Teaching Interests

Lab based teaching

Module assistant Level A: Geological materials, Maps and Stratigraphy, Sedimentology, Sedimentary processes.

Field based teaching

Module assistant Level A: Geology 1- Ingleton excursion, County Clare field, Petroleum Reservoirs field trip.

Project details

Project title

Quantitative prediction of fluvial stratigraphic architecture in overbank successions

Start date

1 August 2013


Dr Nigel Mountney, Dr Dave Hodgson, and Luca Colombera


Funded by the Fluvial Research Group-

Project outline

This project will develop a series of quantitative depositional models with which to account for preserved stratigraphic architecture a variety of fluvial floodplain settings, including in coal-bearing successions developed in sub-humid climates.

This will be achieved through the following objectives: (i) an outcrop analogue study of a fluvial floodplain-dominated succession, such as that of the Upper Cretaceous Mesaverde group, Eastern Utah , a succession of fluvial channel and coal-bearing floodplain deposits; (ii) a GIS study utilising high-resolution satellite imagery and aerial photography to investigate the morphology and sedimentology modern fluvial floodplain swamps, delta plains and back-barrier coastal plain systems where peats and coals are currently forming; (iii) a subsurface analysis of wireline log and core data from a fluvial overbank succession such as the Permian Rangal Coal Measures in the Bowen Basin, Queensland, Australia (data available); (iv) development of a database with which to make quantitative comparisons between the architectural complexities present in a range of subsurface and outcrop fluvial overbank successions.

This research will constrain uncertainty in fluvial overbank stratigraphy by developing a quantitative database that describes known stratigraphic relationships in coal-bearing successions. Further, this research will generate a series of predictive tools for estimation of likely sand-body dimensions, styles of heterogeneity and also a series of techniques for quantification of stratigraphic uncertainty in low net-to-gross fluvial successions. The results will have applications to the characterization of fluvial reservoirs and unconventional coal seam gas plays.


Major conferences:

-Burns et al.,2013, "Stratigraphic architectural complexity in fluvial overbank successions: examples from the Cretaceous Mesa Verde Group, Utah, USA" unpublished poster presentation at 52nd AGM of the British Sedimentological Research Group, 18-20th December 2013.