Abels, H.A.


Hemmo Abels was educated at Utrecht University, Netherlands, in Geology (2003), where he also did his PhD thesis (2008) in high-resolution integrated stratigraphy of Cenozoic terrestrial and marine successions in Europe. In 2011, Abels was awarded a personal NWO-VENI grant to further study the paleoclimate impact on ancient fluvial systems. Between 2013-2016, Abels was guest-professor in cyclostratigraphy at KU Leuven, Belgium. In 2015, Abels started as Assistant Professor at TU Delft, where he got tenure in 2020 improving predictive methodology of fluvial stratigraphy in the subsurface. As a teacher, Abels tries to intrigue students to make them independent thinkers who appreciate earth’s complexity and the resulting predictive uncertainty.

Past PhD students: Lars Noorbergen (2019), Liesbeth Jorissen (2020), Sergei Lazarev (2020), Niels Meijer (2020), and Youwei Wang (2021).

Current PhD students: Tim Baars, Akeel Alharbi, Emilio Cecchetti, and Parvin Kolah Kaj.



My goal is to understand sediment deposition through space and time to improve static reservoir models. Focussing largely on fluvial sediments, my group is using field analogues and subsurface data to disentangle external climate forcing from internal depositional dynamics and test outcomes in 3D forward models of fluvial stratigraphy. Results comprise the vertical and lateral sediment property distributions that are key to predicting 3D subsurface properties as for paleoenvironmental reconstructions and improving fundamental sedimentological laws.

Interpreted photogrammetry model (left panel) and numerical model output of fluvial stratigraphy (right panel)

Methodologically, I am specialized in the application of integrated stratigraphy (litho-, bio-, cyclo, and magnetostratigraphy) and mostly macro-scale sedimentology in particularly terrestrial sediment records. The core of my work has been in saline to fresh water systems, and alluvial deposits of Cenozoic age, where age and paleoclimatic control is high, while I have significant experience in Mesozoic and Paleozoic sediments.

Ongoing applied projects include the Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Cenozoic continental series in the Dutch subsurface.

The spatial prediction of static rock properties is essential for sustainable use of the subsurface for energy retrieval and storage. I improve sedimentary and stratigraphic models using field outcrops, subsurface studies, and numerical model data and apply those in the subsurface in geo-energy projects in the Netherland and beyond. These applications improve reservoir models and predictive implementation methodologies to help boosting the use of the subsurface in the energy transition.

Analysis of subsurface well logs (left panel) as a feed into dynamic flow tests of fluvial reservoirs (right panel)

We need to educate future Applied Earth Scientists to tackle major issues man-kind is facing!

The Earth is complex due to the interaction of a multitude of parameters and so are sediments equally complex and unpredictable. Geologic findings are often qualitative and their transformation into numbers difficult, while crucial, as otherwise quantified models may be strongly invalid. AES students need to appreciate the complexity of geological data and interpretation, make pragmatic choices, and reliably predict uncertainty.

In 2018, I received a Comenius Teaching Fellow (50k euro) to innovate Geoscience Fieldwork Teaching including the organisation of Fieldwork Teaching workshops in 2019 and 2021 for Dutch Earth Science teachers.


In the Applied Earth Science Bachelor, I teach in:

  • AESB1241 Grand Challenges in Earth Sciences, Climate Change
  • AESB2230 Sedimentology and Reservoir Geology – Course Coordinator
  • AESB2430 Geological Fieldwork – Data Acquisition
  • AESB3440 Field Exploration Project – Geological Model

In the Applied Earth Science Master, I teach in:

  • AESMXXX Earth Systems – Core Module – Source-to-Sink
  • AESM1240 Advanced Sedimentary Geology – Fluvial Systems
  • AESM1475 Outcrop Geology – Fluvial Systems

Below, a selection of 8 publications, please find my full publication list at Google Scholar:

Wang, Y., J.E.A. Storms, A.W. Martinius, D. Karssenberg, and H.A. Abels, 2021.Evaluating alluvial stratigraphic response to cyclic and non‐cyclic upstream forcing through process‐based alluvial architecture modelling. Basin Research 33 (1), 48-65


Abels, H.A., T.F. Baars, Y. Wang, A. Alharbi, J.E.A. Storms, and A.W. Martinius, 2020. Implementing Orbital Climate Control on Alluvial Stratigraphy in Subsurface Predictive Models, 82nd EAGE Annual Conference & Exhibition 2020 (1), 1-5


Noorbergen, L.J., H.A. Abels, F.J. Hilgen, B.E. Robson, E. de Jong, M.J. Dekkers, et al., 2018. Conceptual models for short‐eccentricity‐scale climate control on peat formation in a lower Palaeocene fluvial system, north‐eastern Montana (USA) Sedimentology 65 (3), 775-808.


Abels, H.A., A.E. van Yperen, J.C. Zachos, L.J. Lourens, P.D. Gingerich, et al., 2016. Environmental impact and magnitude of paleosol carbonate carbon isotope excursions marking five early Eocene hyperthermals in the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming. Climate of the Past 12 (5), 1151.


Hilgen, F.J., L.A. Hinnov, H. Abdul Aziz, H.A. Abels, et al., 2015. Stratigraphic continuity and fragmentary sedimentation: the success of cyclostratigraphy as part of integrated stratigraphy. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 404 (1), 157-197.


Abels, H.A., M.J. Kraus, and P.D. Gingerich, 2013. Precession‐scale cyclicity in the fluvial lower Eocene Willwood Formation of the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming (USA). Sedimentology 60 (6), 1467-1483.


Abels, H.A., W.C. Clyde, P.D. Gingerich, et al. 2012. Terrestrial carbon isotope excursions and biotic change during Palaeogene hyperthermals. Nature Geoscience 5 (5), 326-329.


Dupont-Nivet, G., W. Krijgsman, C.G. Langereis, H.A. Abels, et al. 2007. Tibetan plateau aridification linked to global cooling at the Eocene–Oligocene transition, Nature 445 (7128), 635-638.

FRESCO (2018-2022) Fluvial reservoir heterogeneity and connectivity – (Topsectors GeoEnergie, Wintershall, Equinor, TU Delft)


Reservoir sandstones in the Jurassic Lourinha Formation, Portugal (2018-2022, KACST, TU Delft)


HotTrias (2020-2024) Geothermal potential of Triassic sandstones in the West Netherlands Basin (RVO, Panterra, Engie-Hydreco, TU Delft)


Robust (2021) Impact of extreme greenhouse warming during the Paleocene-Eocene transition on alluvial stratigraphic models (Equinor, TU Delft)


ProperBase (2021-2025) Improving geomechanical and thermal reservoir property prediction of Dutch geothermal plays (Topsectors, IF Technology, EBN, Panterra, DeepAtlas, Utrecht University, TU Delft)

Dr. Hemmo Abels

Associate Professor

  • H.A.Abels@tudelft.nl
  • Staff Page
  • Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

    Building 23

    Stevinweg 1 / PO-box 5048

    2628 CN Delft / 2600 GA Delft


    Room number: 3.27

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Rivers from a distant past