Michael Stephenson

Prof Michael Stephenson

BGS Executive Chief Scientist, decarbonisation and resource management
BGS Keyworth


Mike Stephenson is BGS Executive Chief Scientist, Decarbonisation and Resource Management 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. 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 eighty peer-reviewed papers, while also acting on the editorial boards of several journals, and as Editor-in-Chief of an Elsevier geological journal. Mike’s latest book is ‘Energy and Climate Change: An Introduction to Geological Controls, Interventions and Mitigations’ (Elsevier 2018).

Michael Stephenson’s Biography

  • 2019 : Appointed Visiting Professor at Nanjing University, China
  • 2019 : Appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Milan, Italy
  • 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

Research interests

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

Current projects and collaborations

  • 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.


NERC Open Research Archive — Prof. M H Stephenson

Key papers

  • Chernykh, V V, Chuvashov, B I, Shen, S-Z, Henderson, C M, Yuan, D-X, and Stephenson, M H. 2020. The Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the base-Sakmarian Stage (Cisuralian, Lower Permian). Episodes, in press.
  • Emmings, J F, Poulton, S W, Vane, C H, Davies, S, Jenkin, G R T, Stephenson, M H, Leng, M J, Lamb, A, and Moss-Hayes, V, 2020. A Mississippian black shale record of redox oscillation in the Craven Basin, UK. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.109423
  • Stephenson Michael H, Dorit Korngreen, 2020. Palynological correlation of the Arqov and Saad formations of the Negev, Israel, with the Umm Irna Formation of the eastern Dead Sea, Jordan, Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Volume 274. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2019.104153
  • Stephenson, M H, Cheng, Q, Wang, D, Fan, J, Oberhänsli, R. 2020. Progress towards the establishment of the IUGS Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE) programme. Episodes, in press.
  • Stephenson, M H. 2019. The Uses and Benefits of Big Data for Geological Surveys. Acta Geologica Sinica, v 93 S3, pp. 64−65. DOI: 10.1111/1755-6724.14247
  • Henry, D G, Jarvis, I, Gillmore, G, Stephenson, M. 2019. A rapid method for determining organic matter maturity using Raman spectroscopy: Application to Carboniferous organic-rich mudstones and coals. Int. J. Coal Geol, 203, 87–98.
  • Henry, D G, Jarvis, I, Gillmore, G, Stephenson, M. 2019. Raman spectroscopy as a tool to determine the thermal maturity of organic matter: Application to sedimentary, metamorphic and structural geology. Earth-Science Reviews, 198, 102936.
  • Angiolini, L, Crippa, G, Azmy, K, Capitani, G, Confalonieri, G, della Porta, G, Griesshaber, E, Harper, D A T, Leng, M J, Nolan, L, Orlandi, M, Posenato, R, Schmahl, W W, Banks, V J, and Stephenson, M H. 2019. The giants of the Phylum Brachiopoda: a matter of diet?. Palaeontology, 1-29.
  • Emmings, J F, Hennissen, J A I, Stephenson, M H, Poulton, S W, Vane, C H, Davies, S J, Leng, M J, Lamb, A, and Moss-Hayes, V. 2019. Controls on amorphous organic matter type and sulphurization in a Mississippian black shale. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 268, 1–18. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2019.04.004
  • Powell, J H, Nicora, A, Perri, M C, Rettori, R, Posenato, R, Stephenson, M H, Masri, A, Borlenghi, L M, and Gennari, V. 2019. Lower Triassic (Induan to Olenekian) conodonts, foraminifera and bivalves from the Al Mamalih area, Dead Sea, Jordan: constraints on the P-T boundary. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia, 125(1): 147-181. DOI: 10.13130/2039-4942/11270
  • Tekleva, M V, Stephenson, M H, and Zavialova, N E. 2019. The exine ultrastructure of Pretricolpipollenites bharadwajii from the Permian of Jordan. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 268, 19-28. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2019.05.003
  • Henry, D G, Jarvis, I, Gillmore, G, Stephenson, M, and Emmings, J F. 2018. Assessing low-maturity organic matter in shales using Raman spectroscopy: Effects of sample preparation and operating procedure. International Journal of Coal Geology, 191, 135-151.
  • Spina, A, Stephenson, M H, Simonetta, C, Aria-Nasab, M, and Rettori, R. 2018. Palynostratigraphy of the Permian Faraghan Formation in the Zagros Basin, southern Iran. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia, vol. 124, 573-595. DOI: 10.13130/2039-4942/10706
  • Wang, S, Vincent, C J, Zeng, R, and Stephenson, M H. 2018. Geological suitability and capacity of CO2 storage in the Jiyang Depression, East China. Greenhouse Gas Sci Technol. 0:1–15.
  • Emmings, J F, Davies, S J, Vane, C H, Leng, M J, Moss-Hayes, V, Stephenson, M H, and Jenkin, G R T. 2017. Stream and slope weathering effects on organic-rich mudstone geochemistry and implications for hydrocarbon source rock assessment: A Bowland Shale case study. Chemical Geology, 471, 74–91.
  • Hennissen, J A I, Hough, E, Vane, C H , Leng, M J, Kemp, S J, and Stephenson, M H. 2017. The prospectivity of a potential shale gas play: An example from the southern Pennine Basin (central England, UK). Marine and Petroleum Geology, 86, 1047-1066.
  • Jan, I U, Iqbal, S, Davies, S J, Zalasiewicz, J A, Stephenson, M H, Wagreich, M, Haneef, M, Hanif M, and Ahmad, S. 2017. Periglacial Palaeoenvionment in the Upper Carboniferous–Lower Permian Tobra Formation of the Salt Range, Pakistan. Acta Geologica Sinica, 91, 801–84.
  • Nolan, L S P, Angiolini, L, Jadoul, F, Della Porta, G, Davies, S J, Banks, V J, Stephensonm M H, and Leng, M J. 2017. Sedimentary context and palaeoecology of Gigantoproductus shell beds in the Mississippian Eyam Limestone Formation, Derbyshire carbonate platform, central England. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society. DOI: 10.1144/pygs2017-393
  • Crippa, G, Angiolini, L, Bottini, C, Erba, E, Felletti, F, Frigerio, C, Hennissen, J A I, Leng, M J, Petrizzo, M R, Raffi, I, Raineri, G, and Stephenson, M H. 2016. Seasonality fluctuations recorded in fossil bivalves during the early Pleistocene: Implications for climate change. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 446, 234–251
  • Jan, I U, Shah, A, Stephenson, M H, Iqbal, S, Hanif, M, Wagreich, M, and Hussain, H S. 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. Open access paper.
  • Könitzer, S F, Stephenson, M H, Davies, S J, Vane, C H, and Leng, M J. 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, J H, Stephenson, M H, Nicora, A, Rettori, R, Borlenghi Letizia, M, and Perri Maria, C. 2016. The Permian -Triassic boundary, Dead Sea, Jordan: transitional alluvial to marine depositional sequences and biostratigraphyRivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia, 122, 55-72. Open access paper.
  • Stephenson, M H, Kader Al-Mashaikie, S Z A, and Kurukchi, W M. 2016. Palynological assemblages across the Hercynian unconformity in Western Iraq. Revue de Micropaleontologie, online. DOI: 10.1016/j.revmic.2016.05.005
  • Stephenson, M H. 2016. Permian palynostratigraphy: a global overview. In: Lucas, S G, and Shen, S Z. (eds) The Permian Timescale. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 450; also available open access. DOI: 10.1144/SP450.2
  • 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
  • Stephenson, M H. 2015. Shale gas in North America and Europe. Energy Science and Engineering, 4, 4–13. DOI: 10.1002/ese3.96
  • Yang, S, Horsfield, B, Mahlstedt, N, Stephenson, M H, and Koenitzer, S. 2015. On the primary and secondary petroleum generating characteristics of the Bowland Shale, northern England. Journal of the Geological Society. 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, Angiolini, L, Van Waveren, I, Crow, M J, Hasibuan, F, Stephenson, M H, and Ueno, K. 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, S F, Davies, S J, Stephenson, M H, and Leng, M J. 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
  • Stephenson, M H, and Powell, J 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), 13–34.
  • Wang, S, Vincent, C J, Stephenson, M H, and Zeng, R. 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, M H, and Jan, I. 2013. Palynological evidence for diachroneity in the basal Khuff Formation clastics, Middle East. Permophiles, 57, 15-19.
  • Stephenson, M H, and Powell, J H. 2013. Palynology and alluvial architecture in the Permian Umm Irna Formation, Dead Sea, Jordan. GeoArabia, 18, 3, 17-60.
  • Zeng, R, Vincent, C, Tian, X, Stephenson, M H, and 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.
  • ter Mors, E, Terwel, B W, Daamen, D L D, Reiner, D M, Schumann, D, Anghel, S, Boulouta, I, Cismaru, D M, Constantin, C, de Jager, C C H, Dudu, A, Esken, A, Falup, O C, Firth, R M, Gemeni, V, Hendriks, C, Ivan, L, Koukouzasi, N, Markos, A, Næss, R, Pietzner, K, Samoila, I R, Sava, C S, Stephenson, M H, Tomescu, C E, Torvatn, H Y, Tvedt, S D, Vallentin, D, West, J M, and Ziogou, F. 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, 256–263.
  • Kender, S, Stephenson, M H, Riding J B, Leng, M J, Knox, R W O’B., Vane, C H, Peck, V L, Kendrick, C P, Ellis, M A, and Jamieson, R. 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.
  • Konitzer, S F, Leng, M J, Davies, S J, and Stephenson, M H. 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, Angiolini, L, Darbyshire, F, and Leng, M J. 2012. Age of the Khuff Formation in Saudi Arabia and Oman from brachiopod strontium. GeoArabia, v. 17, no. 2, p. 61-76.
  • Stephenson, M H, Jan, I U, and Al-Mashaikie, S Z A K. 2012. Palynology and correlation of Carboniferous – Permian glacigene rocks in Oman, Yemen and Pakistan. Gondwana Research. Published online. DOI: 10.1016/j.gr.2012.06.005
  • 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, 20, 8, 25-26.
  • Stephenson, M H. 2012. Shale gas – a home grown source of energy and fuel, Science in Parliament, 68, 44-45.
  • Angiolini, L, Stephenson, M H, Leng, M J, Jadoul, F, Millward, D, Aldridge, A, Andrews, J, Chenery, S, and Williams, G. 2011. Heterogeneity, cyclity and diagenesis in a Mississippian brachiopod shell of palaeoequatorial Britain. Terra Nova, 24, 16–26.
  • Daamen, D, Terwel, 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, and 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, Cleal, C J, and 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.
  • Waters, C N, Somerville, I D, and 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.
  • Afzal, J, Williams, M, Leng, M J, Aldridge, R J, and 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, P A, Huys, R, Stephenson, M H, Heward, A P, and Taylor, P N. 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, Angiolini, L, Cozar, P, Jadoul, F, Leng, M J, Millward, D, and Chenery, S. 2010. Northern England Serpukhovian (early Namurian) farfield responses to southern hemisphere glaciation. Journal of the Geological Society, 167; 1171-1184.
  • 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, and Rochelle, C. 2010. Have your coal and burn it. Education in Chemistry, Royal Society of Chemistry, 47, 23-25.

Boards and committees

  • Appointed President of the Deep Time Digital Earth (DDE) program, the first ‘Recognised Big Science Program’ of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). 2019
  • Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier Journal Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 2008- present
  • Editor and Board Member of GeoArabia Petroleum Geosciences, published by Gulf Petrolink – 2006-2016
  • Voting member of the Permian Sub-commission of the International Commission on Stratigraphy 2018 to present
  • Secretary General CIMP, 2002–2008

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