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Reservoir Geomechanics

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 to Friday, June 10, 2016

Zoback ResGeo Promo V3


This interdisciplinary course encompasses the fields of rock mechanics, structural geology, earthquake seismology and petroleum engineering to address a wide range of geomechanical problems that arise during the exploitation of oil and gas reservoirs.

The course considers key practical issues such as prediction of pore pressure, estimation of hydrocarbon column heights and fault seal potential, determination of optimally stable well trajectories, casing set points and mud weights, changes in reservoir performance during depletion, and production-induced faulting and subsidence. The first part of the course establishes the basic principles involved in a way that allows readers from different disciplinary backgrounds to understand the key concepts.

The course is intended for geoscientists and engineers in the petroleum and geothermal industries, and for research scientists interested in stress measurements and their application to problems of faulting and fluid flow in the crust.


Introductory Geology and Geophysics
Familiarity with principles of drilling and petroleum production


  • 20, 90 minute lectures (in ~20 minute segments). 2 lectures will be made available each week, starting March 29, 2016.
  • Lecture 1 is a course overview to introduce students to the topics covered in the course. Lectures 2-17 follow 12 chapters of Dr. Zoback’s textbook, Reservoir Geomechanics (Cambridge University Press, 2007) with updated examples and applications. Lectures 18 and 19 are on topics related to geomechanical issues affecting shale gas and tight oil recovery. Lecture 20 is on the topic of managing the risk of triggered and induced seismicity.
  • 8 Homework assignments (and associated video modules) are intended to give students hands-on experience with a number of the topics addressed in the course.
  • The course grade will be based solely on homework assignments. There will be no quizzes or exams.
  • Homework assignments will be graded electronically and will consist of multiple choice and numerical entry responses.
  • There will be an online discussion forum where students can discuss the content of the course and ask questions of each other and the instructors.


Dr. Mark D. Zoback

Dr. Mark D. Zoback is the Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University. Dr. Zoback conducts research on in situ stress, fault mechanics, and reservoir geomechanics with an emphasis on shale gas, tight gas and tight oil production. He was one of the principal investigators of the SAFOD project in which a scientific research well was successfully drilled through the San Andreas Fault at seismogenic depth. He is the author of a textbook entitled Reservoir Geomechanics published in 2007 by Cambridge University Press. He is the author/co-author of over 300 technical papers and holds five patents. He was the co-founder of GeoMechanics International in 1996, where he was Chairman of the Board until 2008. Dr. Zoback currently serves as a Senior Executive Adviser to Baker Hughes. Dr. Zoback has received a number of awards and honors, including the 2006 Emil Wiechert Medal of the German Geophysical Society and the 2008 Walter H. Bucher Medal of the American Geophysical Union. In 2011, he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and in 2012 elected to Honorary Membership in the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. He is the 2013 recipient of the Louis Néel Medal, European Geosciences Union and named an Einstein Chair Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He recently served on the National Academy of Engineering committee investigating the Deepwater Horizon accident and the Secretary of Energy’s committee on shale gas development and environmental protection. He currently serves on a Canadian Council of Academies panel investigating the same topic. Dr. Zoback is currently serving on the National Academy of Sciences Advisory Board on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fatemeh Rassouli, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Fatemeh Rassouli is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Stress and Crustal Mechanics research group in Stanford's Department of Geophysics. She runs a laboratory based research project studying time-dependent behavior of shale rock samples at reservoir stress and temperature conditions. Fatemeh completed her B.S. in Mining Engineering at University of Tehran, Iran, with honors in 2008. She also holds a master’s degree in Mining Engineering from University of Tehran and a master’s degree in Geophysics from Stanford University. Fatemeh was a visiting scholar at Tokai University and Toyota National College in Japan in 2010 and MIT in 2015. She currently collaborates with the Stanford Rock and Borehole Geophysics consortium.

Noha Farghal, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Noha Farghal is a 5th year PhD candidate in the Geophysics Department at Stanford University. She is a member of the Zoback Stress and Crustal Mechanics Group, working with Prof. Mark Zoback on identifying and characterizing faults and fracture networks in 3D seismic data from tight gas reservoirs. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in Physics from the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and holds a Master degree in Physics and a Master degree in Geophysics. Noha's teaching experience include 3D seismic processing (GP224 at Stanford), nuclear physics and solid state physics laboratories as well as scientific thinking courses.


Can I at least access the course materials, even if I can't take the course?

Yes. All course material is archived and available for download for non-commercial purposes. To do so, register for the course.

Will I receive a Statement of Accomplishment in this course?

Yes. A Statement of Accomplishment will be given to those students who obtain more than 70% of the maximum points on the 8 homework assignments.

Do I need to purchase a textbook for the course?

While it is not required to purchase the Reservoir Geomechanics textbook for this course, it is recommended. Lectures 2-17 follow the 12 chapters of the book. The book provides significant additional detail and explanation of the course concepts. It is available through:
Cambridge University Press:
Amazon and Kindle: