My main research interest is in understanding natural fracture systems, with particular emphasis on their relevance for unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs. Having established the broad characteristics of fractures in shales, set out in a 2014 review paper, the next phase of work is to examine attributes more closely. In addition to fracture size (width, length, height), morphology, spacing and openness attributes in core and outcrop I work with others in the FRAC research group using fluid inclusions and stable isotope geochemistry to establish conditions of fluids from which fracture cements precipitate. In conjunction with burial history this allows us to establish fracture timing, which in turn leads to better understanding of fracture mechanisms. I work closely with colleagues in Petroleum and Geosystem Engineering at UT to better understand how attributes of natural fractures affect interaction with hydraulic fractures used in well stimulation. I also collaborate in the new Center for Integrated Seismicity Research.
Fracture and vein systems: growth, mineral fill, and transmissivity
Shear zones: processes and products
Structural geology and tectonics: Anglesey, N. Wales; N.E. Scotland
B.S. Honors Geology, Imperial College, London, 1982
Ph.D. The University of Exeter, 1987
Research Associate, Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, 1998–2000
Senior Lecturer, Division of Earth Sciences, University of Derby, UK, 1986–1998
Research Assistant, University of Exeter, UK/Greenland Geological Survey, 1982–1985
Gale, J. F. W., Laubach, S. E., Marrett, R. A., Olson, J. E., Holder, Jon, and Reed, R. M., 2004, Predicting and characterizing fractures in dolostone reservoirs: using the link between diagenesis and fracturing, in Braithwaite, C. J. R., Rizzi, G., and Darke, G., eds., The geometry and petrogenesis of dolomite hydrocarbon reservoirs: London, Geological Society, Special Publications, 235, p. 177–192.
Laubach, S. E., Olson, J. E., and Gale, J. F. W., 2004, Are open fractures necessarily aligned with maximum horizontal stress?: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 222, no. 1, p. 191–195.
Gale, J. F. W., 2002, Specifying lengths of horizontal wells in fractured reservoirs: Society of Petroleum Engineers Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering, Paper No. 78600, p. 266–272.
Gomez, L. A., Gale, J. F. W., Ruppel, S. C., and Laubach, S. E., 2001, Fracture characterization using rotary-drilled sidewall coves: an example from the Ellenburger formation, West Texas The West Texas Geological Society Fall Symposium, WTGS publication 01-110,
Stowell, J. F. W., 2001, Characterization of opening-mode fracture systems in the Austin Chalk. Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies transactions, v. 51, p. 313–319.
Stowell, J. F. W., Laubach, S. E. and Olson, J. E., 2001, Effect of modern state of stress on flow-controlling fractures: a misleading paradigm in need of revision, in Elsworth, D., Tinucci, J. P. and Heasley, K. A., eds., Rock Mechanics in the National Interest: Proceedings of the 38th Annual U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium, Balkema, v.1, p. 691–698.
Stowell, J. F. W., Watson, A. P., and Hudson, N. F. C., 1999, Geometry and population systematics of a quartz vein set, Holy Island, Anglesey, North Wales, in McCaffrey, K., Lonergan, L., and Wilkinson, J., eds. Fractures, fluid flow and mineralization: London, Geological Society, Special Publications, 155, p. 17–33.
Promotions Committee, Geological Society of London, 1990–1993
Agent, Geological Society of London, for the University of Derby, 1990–1998
Research Committee, School of Environmental and Applied Science, University of Derby, 1997–1998
Quality Committee, School of Environmental and Applied Science, University of Derby, 1997–1998
SEPM 2001 Honorable Mention Oral Presentation award for Stowell, J. F. W., Laubach, S. E., Marrett, R. A., Olson, J. E., and Holder, J. "Understanding Fractured Carbonate Reservoirs", AAPG/SEPM annual meeting, Denver, 2001.
Clement le Neve Foster Memorial Prize, Imperial College, 1982