With the World's oil and gas reserves gradually running out, there is now intense economic pressure to explore for hydrocarbons in more and more inaccessible terrestrial and marine regions of the globe. My research concentrates on frontier geological exploration to help find petroleum in developing tropical regions which were previously thought to be uneconomic. A particular focus of study over the last 15 years has become East Africa, which has the potential to yield vast hydrocarbon reserves well into this century. Crucial to resolving the petroleum geology of East Africa is a detailed understanding of how simultaneous regional, extensional tectonic phases and oscillating low latitude climate change over the past 80 million years, have together controlled rift basin sedimentary fill style and architecture. My research investigates this link, currently in the Mesozoic – Paleogene basins of coastal Tanzania and the Quaternary Ugandan – Congolese Albertine Graben of the Western Arm of the East African Rift System. This involves the first ever detailed geological exploration of these areas, producing geological maps, memoirs and stratigraphic schemes for outcrop which are then used to better understand the subsurface petroleum geology.
I currently supervise two postgraduates students in TCD, with several having successfully graduated over the last few years. My currently available research opportunities are listed here.
GL1101 Junior Freshman Geology
Hudson, W. E. and Nicholas, C. J. In Review. Stratigraphy of the Mandawa Basin, southern coastal Tanzania. Journal of African Earth Sciences.
Handley, L., O'Halloran, A., Pearson, P. N., Hawkins, E., Nicholas, C. J., Schouten, S., McMillan, I. K., and Pancost, R. D. In Press. Changes in the hydrological cycle in tropical East Africa during the Eocene Thermal Maximum. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
Nicholas, C. J. and Gold, S. E. P. 2012. Ediacaran - Cambrian Sirab Formation of the Al Huqf region, Sultanate of Oman. GeoArabia, 17 (No 1), p.49-98 (with 2 Enclosures).
Hellawell, J., and Nicholas, C. J. 2011. Acid treatment effects on the stable isotopic signatures of fossils. Palaeontology 54, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2011.01108.x
Bown, P. R., Dunkley Jones, T., Lees, J. A. , Randell, R. D., Mizzi, J. A., Pearson, P. N., Coxall, H. K., Young, J. R., Nicholas, C. J., Karega, A., Singano, J., Wade, B.S. 2008. A Paleogene calcareous microfossil Konservat-Lagerstätte from the Kilwa Group of coastal Tanzania. Geological Society of America Bulletin 120, 3-12.
Nicholas, C. J., Pearson, P. N., McMillan, I. K., Ditchfield, P. W., Singano, J. M., 2007. Structural evolution of southern coastal Tanzania since the Jurassic. Journal of African Earth Sciences 48, 273-297.
Nicholas, C. J., and Pearson, P. N., 2007. Robert Jameson on the Isle of Arran, 1797-1799: in search of Hutton's 'Theory of the Earth'. In Wyse Jackson, P. N., (ed) Four Centuries of geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 287, 31-47.
MacGabhann, B. A., Murray, J. & Nicholas, C. J. 2007. Ediacaria booleyi: weeded from the Garden of Ediacara? In Vickers-Rich, P. & Komarower, P. (eds) The rise and fall of the Ediacaran biota. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 286, 277-295.
Pearson, P. N., and Nicholas, C. J., 2007. 'Marks of extreme violence': Charles Darwin's geological observations at St Jago (São Tiago), Cape Verde islands. In Wyse Jackson, P. N., (ed) Four Centuries of geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 287, 239-253.
Pearson, P. N., van Dongen, B. E., Nicholas, C. J., Pancost, R. D., Schouten, S., Singano, J. M., Wade, B. S., 2007. Stable warm tropical climate through the Eocene epoch. Geology 35, 211-214.
Nicholas, C. J., Pearson, P. N., Bown, P. R., Dunkley Jones, T., Huber, B. T., Karega, A., Lees, J. A., McMillan, I. K., O'Halloran, A., Singano, J. M. and Wade, B. S. 2006. Stratigraphy and sedimentology of the Upper Cretaceous and Paleogene Kilwa Group, southern coastal Tanzania. Journal of African Earth Sciences 45, 431-466.
Pearson, P. N., Nicholas, C. J., Singano, J. M., Bown, P. R., Coxall, H. K., van Dongen, B. E., Huber, B. T., Karega, A., Lees, J. A., MacLeod, K., McMillan, I. K., Pancost, R. D., Pearson, M., and Msaky, E. 2006. Further Paleogene and Cretaceous sediment cores from the Kilwa area of coastal Tanzania: Tanzania Drilling Sites 6-10. Journal of African Earth Sciences 45, 279-317.
Pearson, P. N., Nicholas, C. J., Singano, J. M., Bown, P. R., Coxall, H. K., van Dongen, B. E., Huber, B. T., Karega, A., Lees, J. A., Msaky, E., Pancost, R. D., Pearson, M., and Roberts, A. P. 2004. Paleogene and Cretaceous sediment cores from the Kilwa and Lindi areas of coastal Tanzania: Tanzania Drilling Project Sites 1 - 5. Journal of African Earth Sciences 39, 25-62.
Pearson, P. N., Ditchfield, P. W., Singano, S., Harcourt-Brown, K. G., Nicholas, C. J., Olsson, R. K., Shackleton, N. J., and Hall, M. A. 2001. Warm tropical sea surface temperatures in the Late Cretaceous and Eocene epochs. Nature 413, 481-487.
Evans, S. E., Manabe, M., Cooke, E., Hirayama, R., Isaji, S., Nicholas, C. J., Unwin, D., and Yabumoto, Y. 1998. An Early Cretaceous tetrapod assemblage from Japan. Bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History.
Nicholas, C. J. 1996. The Sr isotopic evolution of the oceans during the 'Cambrian Explosion'. Journal of the Geological Society, London. 153, 243-254.
Butterfield, N. J. and Nicholas, C. J. 1996. Burgess Shale-type preservation of both non-mineralizing and 'shelly' Cambrian organisms from the Mackenzie Mountains, northwestern Canada. Journal of Paleontology. 70, 893-899.
Nicholas, C. J. 1994. New stratigraphical constraints on the Durness Group of NW Scotland. Scottish Journal of Geology. 30, 73-85.
Nicholas, C. J., Henwood, A. A. and Simpson, M. 1993. A new discovery of early Cretaceous (Wealden) amber from the Isle of Wight. Geological Magazine. 130, 847-850.
Clarke, N. D. L., Nimmo, F. and Nicholas, C. J. 1993. A new occurrence of Scottish plesiosaurian remains from the Island of Skye. Scottish Journal of Geology. 29, 197-199.
Geological Surveys and Reports for the Petroleum Industry (*indicates currently confidential, but available for publication at a later date)
*Nicholas, C. J. 2011. The Onshore Solid geology of Exploration Area 1: Murchison Falls National Park and Pakwach Basin, northern Lake Albert, Uganda.. Tullow Oil Ltd. 57pp (includes A0 1:50 000 geological map sheet).
*Nicholas C. J. 2011. Initial results of a new geological field survey of Block V, southern Lake Edward, Demoscratic Republic of Congo. Soco DRC Ltd. 30pp (includes preliminary 1:100 000 scale geological map sheet).
*Nicholas C. J. and Newth, I. R. 2009. Summary technical evaluation of Exploration Area 4B, Ugandan Lake Edward. Dominion Petroleum Ltd. 125pp.(includes 2 x A0-size 1:100,000 geological map sheets, plus 3 x A0-size Prospect Montages).
*Nicholas, C. J. and Goodwin, N. 2009. Hydrocarbon seeps and slicks in the Lake Edward – Lake George basins, Uganda. Dominion Petroleum Ltd. 100pp.
Nicholas, C. J. and Gold, S. 2008.Field guide to the Sarab Formation of the Huqf: Lithostratigraphic equivalent to the subsurface Ara Group. Internal field guide, Petroleum Development Oman.
Nicholas, C. J., and Abeinomugisha, D., 2008. The Geology of Onshore Block 4B, South-East Lake Edward, Uganda: Initial Report. Dominion Petroleum Ltd. 120pp (includes 3 x A0-size geological map sheets and stratigraphy enclosures).
Nicholas, C. J., 2006. Mandawa Basin geological field survey; preliminary results. Dominion Petroleum Ltd. 20pp. (includes 3 x A1-size 1:50 000 geological map sheets, 1 x A0-size sheet of scale cross sections and 1 x A0-size sheet of stratigraphic correlations).
Nicholas, C. J., 2006. The Precambrian - Cambrian Ara Group in outcrop, Huqf region, south Oman. Exploration Report, Petroleum Development Oman. pp.70.
Nicholas, C. J. 2000. Exploring Geology on the Isle of Arran. Cambridge University Press. 234pp.
Nicholas, C. J., in Evans, S. E. and Manabe, M. 1998.Shokawa Village in the Cretaceous. 2. Shokawa Village, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. 27 pp. [In Japanese].
Robert Mallet: An Ingenious Victorian. A ten panel travelling exhibition for the RDS in 2010 to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth in Dublin of Robert Mallet, 'Father of Seismology'.