Christopher J. Spiers, BSc., Ph.D., D.I.C., A.R.S.M. (Lond.)
Professor of Earth Materials, Universiteit Utrecht
ABGS 1967–72

Christopher Spiers

Chris J. Spiers
in his lab at the Utrecht University

Chris Spiers attended Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School from September 1967 until July 1972. He was born locally in 1953, and whilst at school he lived in Llwydcoed Road in Llwydcoed. For Advanced Level he took Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Geology, and in his final year he was Head Boy. He wrote a short article about the school as it was in 1972, for the school 75th anniversary booklet1.

From school he went to Imperial College, London, where he gained a first class degree in Geology resulting in the award of the Watts Medal. He stayed at Imperial, 1976-80 doing research for his PhD, which was awarded in 1982. After Imperial he did a year in the USA as a Miller Research Fellow at The University of California, Berkeley.

From 1982-83 he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Utrecht University in The Netherlands. He has remained at this university until the present day having progressed from Assistant Professor in Experimental Rock Deformation to his present post, in 1994, of Professor of Earth Materials; Head of Experimental Rock Deformation Group and Head of High Pressure-Temperature, (HPT), Laboratory at the university.

Chris specialises in research on the mechanical and transport properties of rock materials under conditions that characterise the Earth’s crust and upper mantle, and the effects that fluid-rock interactions have on these properties. He established the HPT Laboratory to simulate the conditions that relate to his specialist interest.

Christopher Spiers

Chris Spiers as Head Boy with
Headmaster, Gwilym Williams, 1972

His research interests include topics ranging from the solid state flow and mechanical damage behaviour of crustal and upper mantle rocks (from rocksalt and carbonates to olivine), to the frictional and healing behaviour of faults, natural and induced earthquake nucleation, the compaction behaviour of sands and sandstones, and to the effects of carbon dioxide on the mechanical behaviour of reservoir rocks, caprocks, coals and gas shales - in the context of both geological storage of carbon dioxide and enhanced hydrocarbons production methods.

As well as his research interests, Chris is also committed to educating students and early career researchers, playing a vigorous role in the Earth Sciences Bachelor and Master programmes at Utrecht.

Having filled university management functions from Dean to Education Director, Chris is currently leader of Utrecht University’s 1.4 MEuro Strategic Research Programme on GeoResources, and Programme Council member in CATO-2, the Dutch National Carbon Capture & Storage Programme.

Chris is also associated with the University of Saskatchewan (Regina), Canada as Adjunct Professor in Geological Storage of carbon dioxide; with State Key Laboratory of Earthquake Dynamics as Guest professor and the Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing; and Guest Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology.

1. A copy of this booklet can be found in the School History Section of this website.

31 August 2015