Professor David Macdonald

Professor David Macdonald
BSc, PhD, FGS, FRGS, CGeol.

Chair in Geology & Petroleum Geology

Professor David Macdonald
Professor David Macdonald

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 273451
fax +44 (0) 1224-272785
The University of Aberdeen Room 144 Meston Building King's College Aberdeen AB24 3UE


Career summary:       Grant income of £7.4M (majority from industry); 22 PhD students successfully defended, 6 current PhD students; 60 research publications and popular science articles.

1999-present:  Professor of Petroleum Geology, University of Aberdeen; 2003-05: Course Director: MSc in Petroleum Geology; 2003-2005: Head of School of Geosciences 2005-2010.  Research on reservoir sand quality and deltas (mainly Sakhalin and Russian Far East).

1993-1999:      Director and Chief Geologist, Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme (an independent geological research group, c.30 staff, in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge); industry funded, >£1M p.a.  Specialised in field geology of frontier areas: Arctic, Russia, China and South Atlantic.

l984-1993:       Senior Sedimentologist & Leader, Fore-arc Basin Dynamics Project, British Antarctic Survey.

l982-1984:       Sedimentologist, BP Petroleum Development Ltd, International Division.  Took part in field work in Sabah and Irian Jaya.

l980-1982:       Postdoctoral demonstrator in Department of Geology, University of Keele.

l977-1980:       University of Cambridge, Darwin College:  PhD The sedimentology, structure and palaeogeography of the Cumberland Bay Formation, South Georgia.

l975-1980:       Contract Geologist, British Antarctic Survey.

l97l-1975:        University of Glasgow: BSc with First Class Honours, Geology, July l975.


Research Interests

Petroleum geology; tectonics and sedimentology 

Current Research

I am working on the links between large-scale tectonics and sediment supply.  I have a particular interest in deltas at continental margins and plate boundaries witrh current PhD studnets active in Nigeria (Niger-Benue system) and Californis (palaeo-delta of the Colorado River).


My main collaborations are with:

  1. With Ian Dalziel and Lawrence Lawver at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (part of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin) I have worked on continental reconstructions using the PLATES Project software.
  2. Rachel Flecker (BRIDGE group, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol) and I work together on the palaeo-Amur system as exposed on Sakhalin, Russian Far East.  this research also includes collaboration with Dr Uisdean Nicholson of Shell.
  3. I continue to associate with my old colleagues at CASP in the University of Cambridge.

Teaching Responsibilities

I teach at both BSc and Masters level:

  • I am a member of the course team for our second year field class, centered on the Isle of Arran (GL2510: Introduction to field geology)
  • I am course coordinator for a level 3 course for petroleum engineering studnets (GL3523: Petroleum geology & reservoir characterisation)
  • I teach and coordinate a course for MSc students on the OGEM programme, showing how the energy industry works (GL5006: Overview of the energy industry)
  • From September, I will be Director of Taught Postgraduate Programmes in Petroleum Geology, responsible for both Integrated Petroleum Geoscience and Oil & Gas Enterprise Management
Further Info

External Responsibilities

Member of the editorial boards of Geological Magazine and Journal of Petroleum Geology

Admin Responsibilities

Member of the College Postgraduate Committee, University Redundancy Committee, and the University Honorary Degrees Committee

Internal Responsibilities




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Contributions to Journals


  • Anudu, GK., Stephenson, RA., Macdonald, DIM. & Oakey, GN. (2016). 'Geological features of the northeastern Canadian Arctic margin revealed from analysis of potential field data'. Tectonophysics, vol 691, no. Part A, pp. 48-64.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.tecto.2016.03.025
    [Online] AURA: Goodluck_Arctic_paper_merged.pdf
  • Adewole, EO., Macdonald, DIM. & Healy, D. (2016). 'Estimating density and vertical stress magnitudes using hydrocarbon exploration data in the onshore Northern Niger Delta Basin, Nigeria: Implication for overpressure prediction'. Journal of African Earth Sciences, vol 123, pp. 294-308.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2016.07.009
  • Nicholson, U., Van Der Es, B., Clift, PD., Flecker, R. & Macdonald, DIM. (2016). 'The sedimentary and tectonic evolution of the Amur River and North Sakhalin Basin: New evidence from seismic stratigraphy and Neogene-Recent sediment budgets'. Basin Research, vol 28, no. 2, pp. 273-297.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1111/bre.12110
  • Hole, MJ., Ellam, RM., MacDonald, DIM. & Kelley, SP. (2016). 'Gondwana break-up related magmatism in the Falkland Islands'. Journal of the Geological Society , vol 173, no. 1, pp. 108-126.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1144/jgs2015-027
    [Online] AURA: 7533_3_Final_1437483406.pdf
  • Anudu, GK., Stephenson, RA. & Macdonald, DIM. (2014). 'Using high-resolution aeromagnetic data to recognise and map intra-sedimentary volcanic rocks and geological structures across the Cretaceous middle Benue Trough, Nigeria'. Journal of African Earth Sciences, vol 99, no. 2, pp. 625-636.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2014.02.017
  • McGregor, ED., Nielsen, SB., Stephenson, RA., Petersen, KD. & MacDonald, DIM. (2013). 'Long-term exhumation of a Palaeoproterozoic orogen and the role of pre-existing heterogeneous thermal crustal properties: a fission-track study of SE Baffin Island'. Journal of the Geological Society , vol 170, no. 6, pp. 877-891.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1144/jgs2012-146
  • Nicholson, U., VanLaningham, S. & Macdonald, DIM. (2013). 'Quaternary landscape evolution over a strike-slip plate boundary: drainage network response to incipient orogenesis in Sakhalin, Russian far east'. Geosphere, vol 9, no. 3, pp. 588-601.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1130/GES00883.1
  • Nicholson, U., Poynter, S., Clift, PD. & Macdonald, DIM. (2013). 'Tying catchment to basin in a giant sediment routing system: a source-to-sink study of the Neogene–Recent Amur River and its delta in the North Sakhalin Basin'. Geological Society Special Publications , vol 386.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1144/SP386.7
  • McGregor, ED., Nielsen, SB., Stephenson, RA., Clausen, OR., Petersen, KD. & Macdonald, DIM. (2012). 'Evolution of the west Greenland margin: offshore thermostratigraphic data and modelling'. Journal of the Geological Society , vol 169, no. 5, pp. 515-530.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1144/0016-76492011-139
  • Limmer, DR., Henstock, TJ., Giosan, L., Ponton, C., Tabrez, AR., Macdonald, DIM. & Clift, PD. (2012). 'Impacts of sediment supply and local tectonics on clinoform distribution: the seismic stratigraphy of the mid Pleistocene-Holocene Indus Shelf'. Marine Geophysical Research, vol 33, no. 3, pp. 251-267.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1007/s11001-012-9160-6
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