Dr David Edwin Dempsey

PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons)


David joined the Engineering Science Department in 2015 as a lecturer. He completed his PhD in subsurface flow and fault modelling at the University of Auckland in 2012 before going on to postdoctoral positions at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Stanford University.

David's research focuses on computational modelling of coupled subsurface flow and geomechanics systems.

Research | Current

David uses numerical models to understand Earth Science problems governed by complex nonlinear physics. In particular, he is interested in systems coupling subsurface flow with geomechanics, such as:

  • Induced seismicity - earthquakes triggered by human activity. These are linked to a range of engineering activities including wastewater disposal, reinjection of geothermal fluids, hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), dam impoundment for hydroelectric generation, and mining related activities. Recent work has focused on forecasting models for earthquakes occurring at Groningen natural gas field, the Netherlands.
  • Geothermal well stimulation - injection of cold water into a well to cause rock fracturing, microearthquakes and improved fluid flow. 
  • Reservoir geomechanics - changes in stress and deformation related to injection or extraction of water, oil or gas.
  • CO2 sequestration - injection and permanent storage underground of millions of tonnes of CO2 in an attempt to reduce atmospheric emissions.

Postgraduate supervision


Jeremy Riffault - "A mixed stochastic/deterministic model for induced seismicity applied to the 2011 Paralana EGS stimulation"

Irene Wallis - "Conceptual Models of Permeability in High-Temperature, volcanic hosted geothermal systems: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Facing Data and Uncertainty"

Alberto Ardid - "Joint inversion of temperatures in a geothermal field using MT, clay alteration models, and geothermal reservoir simulation"


Julius Rivera - "Reservoir Microearthquake Modelling Analysis of Leyte Geothermal System, Philippines"


2010 Recipient of Energy Education Trust of New Zealand Doctoral Scholarship

2009 Recipient of Top Achievers Doctoral Scholarhip

2008 Recipient of New Zealand Post Antarctic Scholarship

Areas of expertise

Earthquake source simulation; reservoir geomechanics; subsurface flow modelling; induced seismicity; geothermal reservoir modelling; CO2 sequestration; geological heterogeneity.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Dempsey, D., & Suckale, J. (2017). Physics-based forecasting of induced seismicity at Groningen gas field, the Netherlands. Geophysical Research Letters, 44 (15), 7773-7782. 10.1002/2017GL073878
  • Dempsey, D., & Suckale, J. (2016). Collective properties of injection-induced earthquake sequences: 1. Model description and directivity bias. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 121 (5), 3609-3637. 10.1002/2015JB012550
  • Dempsey, D., Suckale, J., & Huang, Y. (2016). Collective properties of injection-induced earthquake sequences: 2. Spatiotemporal evolution and magnitude frequency distributions. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 121 (5), 3638-3665. 10.1002/2015JB012551
  • Birdsell, D. T., Rajaram, H., Dempsey, D., & Viswanathan, H. S. (2015). Hydraulic fracturing fluid migration in the subsurface: A review and expanded modeling results. Water Resources Research, 51 (9), 7159-7188. 10.1002/2015WR017810
  • Dempsey, D., Kelkar, S., Davatzes, N., Hickman, S., & Moos, D. (2015). Numerical modeling of injection, stress and permeability enhancement during shear stimulation at the Desert Peak Enhanced Geothermal System. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, 78, 190-206. 10.1016/j.ijrmms.2015.06.003
  • Dempsey, D., O'Malley D, & Pawar, R. (2015). Reducing uncertainty associated with CO2 injection and brine production in heterogeneous formations. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 37, 24-37. 10.1016/j.ijggc.2015.03.004
  • Dempsey, D., Kelkar, S., & Pawar, R. (2014). Passive injection: A strategy for mitigating reservoir pressurization, induced seismicity and brine migration in geologic CO₂ storage. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 28, 96-113. 10.1016/j.ijggc.2014.06.002
  • Keating, E., Newell, D., Dempsey, D., & Pawar, R. (2014). Insights into interconnections between the shallow and deep systems from a natural CO₂ reservoir near Springerville, Arizona. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 25, 162-172. 10.1016/j.ijggc.2014.03.009


Contact details

Primary office location

New Zealand

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