Prof Michael Stephenson

Prof Michael Stephenson

Director of Science and Technology

Location: BGS Keyworth

Tel: 0115 936 3577

E-mail Prof Michael Stephenson


Mike Stephenson is Director of Science and Technology at the British Geological Survey. He began his career as a schoolteacher in rural Africa and stayed there for nearly ten years but returned to Britain to pursue research in the Middle East and Asia, including highlights in Oman, Jordan, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Mike has degrees from Imperial College and Sheffield University and runs the Science Programme at BGS, the UK's national geoscience and data centre, with 520 scientists and technologists. He has professorships at Nottingham and Leicester universities and has published over seventy peer-reviewed papers, while also acting on the editorial boards of several journals, and as Editor-in-Chief of an Elsevier geological journal. His new book 'Returning Carbon To Nature: Coal, Carbon Capture and Storage' (Elsevier) looks at carbon capture and storage as part of the carbon cycle and climate change, and at coal and its place in future.

Published outputs


  • 2013 : Director of Science and Technology
  • 2011 : Appointed Honorary Professor at the University of Leicester
  • 2010 : Appointed Special Professor at the University of Nottingham
  • 2008 –2013 : Head of Energy Science
  • 2005 –2008 : Principal Research Scientist: palynology and stratigraphy
  • 1999 –2005 : Palynologist and stratigrapher
  • 1996 –1998 : PhD University of Sheffield
  • 1995 –1996 : MSc University of Sheffield
  • 1986 –1995 : School teacher in Mahalapye, Botswana

Boards and committees

  • Editor and Board Member of GeoArabia Petroleum Geosciences, published by Gulf Petrolink
  • Editor of Arabian Journal of Geosciences, published by Springer
  • Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier Journal Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology
  • 2002 –2008 : Secretary General CIMP, 2002–2008

Current projects and collaboration

  • PhD supervision: Issam Al Barram (PhD) Sheffield University, 2007. Carys Bennett (PhD) Leicester University, 2010. Irfan Jan (PhD) Leicester University, 2011. Sven Koenitzer (PhD) Leicester University, 2013. Rachel Jamieson (PhD) Edinburgh University, 2013. Gaia Crippa (PhD) University of Milano, current. William Knight (PhD) University of Nottingham, current. Leah Nolan (PhD), University of Leicester, current. Karl Mcalinden (PhD), University of Nottingham, current. Delano Henry, Kingston University, current.

Research interests

  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Energy science and policy
  • Palynology, isotopes, stratigraphy and Earth events

Key papers

Jan, Irfan U. Iqbal Shahid, Davies Sarah J., Zalasiewicz Jan A., Stephenson Michael H., Wagreich, Michael, Haneef, Muhammad, Hanif Muhammad, Ahmad Sajjad 2017. Periglacial Palaeoenvionment in the Upper Carboniferous–Lower Permian Tobra Formation of the Salt Range, Pakistan. Acta Geologica Sinica, 91, 801–84.

Gaia Crippa, L. Angiolini, C. Bottini, E. Erba, F. Felletti, C. Frigerio, J.A.I. Hennissen, M.J. Leng, M.R. Petrizzo, I. Raffi, G. Raineri, M.H. Stephenson 2016. Seasonality fluctuations recorded in fossil bivalves during the early Pleistocene: Implications for climate change. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 446, 234–251

Irfan U. Jan, Azeem Shah, Michael H. Stephenson, Shahid Iqbal, Muhammad Hanif, Michael Wagreich & Hafiz Shahid Hussain 2016. The sedimentology of the Lower Permian Dandot Formation: a component of the Gondwana deglaciation sequence of the Salt Range, Pakistan. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia, 122, 75-90.

Könitzer, Sven F., Michael H. Stephenson, Sarah J. Davies, Christopher H. Vane, Melanie J. Leng 2016. Significance of sedimentary organic matter input for shale gas generation potential of Mississippian Mudstones, Widmerpool Gulf. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 224, 146-168

Powell, John H., Stephenson, Michael H., Nicora, Alda, Rettori, Roberto, Borlenghi Letizia, M. & Perri Maria, Cristina. 2016. The Permian -Triassic boundary, Dead Sea, Jordan: transitional alluvial to marine depositional sequences and biostratigraphy. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia, 122, 55-72.

Stephenson, M. H. 2016. Permian palynostratigraphy: a global overview. In: Lucas, S. G. & Shen, S. Z. (eds) The Permian Timescale. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 450,; available open access from

Stephenson, M. H., Zeki A. Kader Al Mashaikie, S., Kurukchi, W. M. 2016. Palynological assemblages across the Hercynian unconformity in Western Iraq. Revue de Micropaleontologie, online

Stephenson, M, H. 2015. Shale gas in North America and Europe. Energy Science and Engineering, 4, 4–13. doi: 10.1002/ese3.96

Stephenson, M. H. 2015. Bisaccate pollen from the Early Permian OSPZ3a Sub-Biozone of the Lower Gharif Member, Oman. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 212, 214-225

Yang, S, Horsfield, B, Mahlstedt, N., Stephenson, M. H., Koenitzer, S. 2015. On the primary and secondary petroleum generating characteristics of the Bowland Shale, northern England. Journal of the Geological Society; online doi:10.1144/jgs2015-056

Angiolini, L. Berra, F. Stephenson M.H. and Vachard D. 2014. Chapter 6. The Khuff foreshoal of Interior Oman, in: Permo-Triassic Sequence of the Arabian Plate Edited by M.C. Pöppelreiter; ISBN : 978-90-73834-42-2; Publisher: EAGE Publications bv, p. 127-145.

Crippa G., L. Angiolini, Van Waveren M.J. Crow, F. Hasibuan, M.H. Stephenson, K. Ueno. 2014. Brachiopods, fusulines and palynomorphs of the Mengkarang Formation (Early Permian, Sumatra) and their palaeobiogeographical significance. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 79, 206–223.

Könitzer Sven F., Sarah J. Davies, Michael H. Stephenson, and Melanie J. Leng. 2014. Depositional controls on mudstone lithofacies in a basinal setting: implications for the delivery of sedimentary organic matter Journal of Sedimentary Research, 84: 198-214; doi:10.2110/jsr.2014.18

Shu Wang, Ceri J Vincent, Michael H Stephenson and Rongshu Zeng. 2014. Assessment of storage capacity for CO2 in saline aquifers near hydrocarbon fields, northern Songliao Basin, China. Greenhouse Gas Science and Technology 3, 1–18.

Stephenson Michael H. and Powell John H. 2014. Selected spores and pollen from the Permian Umm Irna Formation, Jordan, and their stratigraphic utility in the Middle East and North Africa. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia, 120, 145-156.

Stephenson, M. H 2014. “Five Unconventional Fuels: Geology and Environment,” in Unconventional Fossil Fuels: The Next Hydrocarbon Revolution? (Abu Dhabi: Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, 2014), pp. 13–34

Emma ter Mors, Bart W. Terwel, Dancker D.L. Daamen, David M. Reiner,Diana Schumann, Sorin Anghel, Ioanna Boulouta, Diana M. Cismaru,Carmencita Constantin, Chris C.H. de Jager, Alexandra Dudu, Andrea Esken,Oana C. Falup, Rebecca M. Firth, Vassiliki Gemeni, Chris Hendriks, Loredana Ivan, Nikolaos Koukouzasi, Angelos Markos, Robert Næss, Katja Pietzner, Irene R. Samoila,Constantin S. Sava, Michael H. Stephenson, Claudia E. Tomescu, Hans Y. Torvatn, Sturle D. Tvedt, Daniel Vallentin, Julia M. West, Fotini Ziogou. 2013. A comparison of techniques used to collect informed public opinions about CCS: Opinion quality after focus group discussions versusinformation-choice questionnaires. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 18 (2013) 256–263.

Stephenson, M. H. and Powell, J. H. 2013. Palynology and alluvial architecture in the Permian Umm Irna Formation, Dead Sea, Jordan. GeoArabia, 2013, v. 18, no. 3, p. 17-60.

Stephenson, M. H., Jan, I. 2013. Palynological evidence for diachroneity in the basal Khuff Formation clastics, Middle East. Permophiles, 57, 15-19.

Zeng, R., Vincent, C., Tian, X., Stephenson, M. H. Xu, S. W. W. 2013. New potential carbon emission reduction enterprises in China: deep geological storage of CO2 emitted through industrial usage of coal in China. Greenhouse Gases Science and technology DOI 10.1002/ghg

Kender, S., Stephenson, Michael H., Riding James B., Leng Melanie J., Knox Robert W. O’B., Vane Christopher H, Peck Victoria L., Kendrick Christopher P, Ellis Michael A., Jamieson Rachel. 2012. Enhanced precipitation and vegetation changes in the North-East Atlantic at the Palaeocene-Eocene boundary. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 353-354, 108-120.

Koenitzer, Sven F. Melanie J. Leng, Sarah J. Davies and Michael H. Stephenson. 2012. An Assessment of Geochemical Preparation Methods prior to Organic Carbon Concentration and Carbon Isotope Ratio Analyses on Carboniferous Mudstones. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, volume 13, number 1, pp 1-12.

Stephenson, M H , Irfan U. Jan and Sa’ad Zeki A. Kader Al-Mashaikie. 2012. Palynology and correlation of Carboniferous - Permian glacigene rocks in Oman, Yemen and Pakistan. Gondwana Research. Published online.

Stephenson, M H. 2012. Are we closing off technology options for a low carbon future? New Statesman online

Stephenson, M. H. 2012. Frack responsibly and risks and quakes are small. New Scientist, Jan 28 Issue.

Stephenson, M. H. 2012. Shale gas risks. Journal of the Foundation for Science and Technology, Volume 20, Number 8, 25-26.

Stephenson, M. H. 2012. Shale gas – a home grown source of energy and fuel, Science in Parliament, 68, 44-45.

Stephenson, M. H., L. Angiolini, F. Darbyshire, M.J. Leng. 2012. Age of the Khuff Formation in Saudi Arabia and Oman from brachiopod strontium. GeoArabia, v. 17, no. 2, p. 61-76.

Angiolini,L. M.H. Stephenson, M.J. Leng, F. Jadoul, D. Millward, A. Aldridge, J. Andrews, S. Chenery, G. Williams. 2011. Heterogeneity, cyclity and diagenesis in a Mississippian brachiopod shell of palaeoequatorial Britain. Terra Nova, 24, 16–26.

Daamen, D., Bart W. B.,ter Mors E., Reiner, D., Schumann, D., Anghel, S., Boulouta, I., Cismaru, D., Constantin, C., de Jager, C., Dudu, A., Firth, R., Gemeni, V., Hendriks, C., Koukouzas, N., Markos, A., Næss, R., Nihfidov, O., Pietzner, K., Samoila I., Sava, C., Stephenson, M., Tomescu, C., Torvatn, H., Tvedt, S., Vallentin, D. West, J M. and Ziogou F. 2011. Scrutinizing the impact of CCS communication on opinion quality: Focus group discussions versus Information-Choice Questionnaires: Results from experimental research in six countries. Energy Procedia, 4, pp 6182-6187. DOI: 10.1016/j.egypro.2011.02.629

Jan, I, & Stephenson, M. H. 2011. Palynology and correlation of the Upper Pennsylvanian Tobra Formation, Zaluch Nala, Salt Range, Pakistan. Palynology. 35, 212-225.

Stephenson, M. H., and Al-Mashaikie, S. Z. A. K. 2011. Stratigraphic note: Update on the age of the Akbarah and Kuhlan formations, northwest Yemen. GeoArabia, 16, 17-24.

Stephenson, M.H. 2011. Two new non-haptotypic palynomorph taxa from the Middle Permian Upper Gharif Member, Oman. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia, 117, 211-219.

Waters, C. N, Somerville, I. D., Stephenson, M. H. 2011. Chapter 26, International Correlation. In: A revised correlation of the Carboniferous rocks of the British Isles. The Geological Society, Special Report 26, p. 11-22.

Waters, C. N, Somerville, I. D., Stephenson, M. H., Cleal, C. J., Long, S. 2011. Chapter 3, Biostratigraphy. In: A revised correlation of the Carboniferous rocks of the British Isles. The Geological Society, Special Report 26, p. 11-22.

Afzal, J., Williams, M., Leng, M.J., Aldridge, R.J. & Stephenson, M.H. 2010. Evolution of Paleocene to Early Eocene larger benthic foraminifer assemblages of the Indus Basin, Pakistan. Lethaia, 44, 299-320. DOI: 10.1111/j.1502-3931.2010.00247.x

Selden, Paul A. Rony Huys, Michael H. Stephenson, Alan P. Heward & Paul N. Taylor. 2010. Crustaceans from a bitumen clast in Carboniferous glacial diamictite of Oman extend the fossil record of copepods. Nature Communications, 1, Article no. 50.

Stephenson, M. H., and Al-Mashaikie, S. Z. A. K. 2010. New age for the lower part of the Kuhlan Formation, northwest Yemen. GeoArabia, 15: 195-204.

Stephenson, M.H. & Rochelle, C. 2010. Have your coal and burn it. Education in Chemistry, Royal Society of Chemistry, 47, 23-25.

Stephenson, M.H. L. Angiolini, P. Cozar, F. Jadoul, M.J. leng, D. Millward, S. Chenery. 2010. Northern England Serpukhovian (early Namurian) farfield responses to southern hemisphere glaciation. Journal of the Geological Society, 167; 1171-1184.