School of Earth and Environment

Bill McCaffrey Prof Bill McCaffrey

Professor of Clastic Sedimentology; Co-Institute Director of IAG

Telephone number: +44(0) 113 34 36625
Email address:
Room: 8.27 SCR
PA details: Samantha Haynes

Affiliation: Institute of Applied Geoscience

Petroleum Leeds

Turbidites Research Group


Further information

Bill is Principal Investigator on the Turbidites Research Group (TRG) joint industry project and Co-Investigator on the Fluvial Research Group and Shallow Marine Research Group JIPs. Bill's principal research area is in deep marine clastics - the deposition of particulate sedimentary rocks in the deep ocean. This work involves a combined approach, using theoretical, computational and experimental modelling together with field analogue studies and databasing approaches to characterise sedimentary architecture. Aims: better understanding of the mechanics of transportation and deposition of sediment from turbidity currents; development of predictive models for geometries, thicknesses, internal characteristics and textural character of turbidite sandstones, hyrbid event beds and debrites; controls on submarine channel development; mechanisms of submarine debris flow generation.

External Collaborators

The TRG is supported by currently supported by BP, ConocoPhillips, ENI, Hess and Murphy. Prior sponsors include Anadarko, BG, BP, ConocoPhillips, Dana, Maersk, Nexen, Statoil, OMV, Petronas, Tullow and Woodside. Academic collaborators are listed as Associates on the TRG people page.


BA (Geology), Oxford, 1987

PhD (Geology), Leeds, 1991


Fellow of the Geological Society of London

Support duties

Research Director for Petroleum Leeds.

Co-Director, Institute of Applied Geosciences, School of Earth and Environment

Project details

Project title

Seeking applicants now: Autogenic versus allogenic controls on deep-sea channel evolution


Prof. Bill McCaffrey, Dr. Marco Patacci, Dr. Luca Colombera, Dr. Rob Dorrell


Turbidites Research Group

Project outline

Submarine channels are the earth’s largest and most important conduits for sediment transport. They comprise an important component of the largest sedimentary accumulations: submarine fans. On the modern sea floor and in the ancient rock record, submarine channels are seen to form in complex patterns, sometimes progressively shifting their position with time, sometimes abruptly shifting to new locations through channel avulsions. The key goal of this project is to assess the relative roles of internal (autogenic) vs. external (allogenic) forcing in the development of individual submarine channels and of submarine channel networks.

As well as developing fundamental new understanding, the work will also find practical application by enabling prediction and characterisation of channelised architectures based on prior knowledge of their boundary conditions of formation and/or their geometrical configuration. The project will exploit large dataset analysis to better understand submarine architecture development, based upon a combination of prior submarine channel studies and original data (field and/or seismic data). Links to the wider experimental and numerical modelling research programme of the TRG are possible; the programme is designed to be flexible, and can be adapted to the particular interests of the student.