Picture_109 - HeijnWebpage 

       Dr. Heijn van Gent 

          now at Shell

Picture_120 - linkedinPicture_119 - youtube

From 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.

Now at Shell (Advanced seismic interpretation R&D) , Rijswijk

2009-2011: PostDoc at Geologie-Endogene Dynamik, RWTH Aachen

2006-2009: PhD at Geologie-Endogene Dynamik, RWTH Aachen

2000-2006: MSc. at Faculty of Geosciences, Universiteit Utrecht, the Netherlands (master thesis partially at RWTH)

Present Projects


Picture_863 - BLUEENDOARROW2009-2012 Fracture occurence from seismic and wells

Picture_1224 - Crack with relayWhen do what kind of deformation structures form, and how do (local) changes in stress influence the formation of these fractures, veins and deformation bands. In an Industry sponsored project we are trying to find out!

As part of this project, we visited SE Utah on a couple of ocasions, performing GPR in Canyonlands NP (poster) and counting deformation bands in Arches NP.

I work together here with Christoph, Zoltan and Michiel. Click on the figure for a gallery.

Picture_863 - BLUEENDOARROW2009-2012 Stringer Geometries

Picture_137 - FrankSaltmine1Together with Frank Strozyk, I am working of quantifying the internal geometry of salt structures, based on 3D reflection seismic observations of the stringer. These geometries rival the internal part of orogens, both in complexity and size, but very little is known about the evolution of these structures, which play an important role in hydrocarbon-, geothermal- and evaporitic salt production and exploration.

The first results are published in JSG, bur a second paper on stringer geometries is submitted to a Geological Society of London - Special publication on salt (September 2011, preprint)

Picture_863 - BLUEENDOARROW2007-2011 CT scans & Discrete Element Models of dilatant faulting



The analogue models of dilatant faults  I developed for my MSc Thesis (se below) are nice, but they have one major drawback, you cannot look INSIDE the models. Recently Marc Holland and myself have published on some first results of analogue models inside a CT-scanner, showing the 4D evolution of the open fracture networks in detail. The paper is available at EPSL (2011).

With Steffen Abe, we developed Discrete Element Models to model the analogue model, shown below. The results show that many of the structures in the analogue models are quite robust. We have recently published a contribution to JGR of our first results!

Picture_863 - BLUEENDOARROW2008-2011
Tectonic controlled deposition of Upper Cretaceous Chalk

Previously, it was assumed that the upper Cretaceous Chalk of Danmark was deposited under relatively quite, pelagic conditions. Recently bottom currents have been inferred to be responsible for subtle structures in these deposits, but together with Stefan Back and Lars Reuning, we have found evidence of gravity driven transport, augmented by tectonic movement along basement faults, as well as the effect of saltstructures on chalk deposition.

A paper of this work is now published in the Journal of the Geological Society of London.

Supervised projects



"Fracture Occurrence and Density from Seismic and Well Data"

For this project I work together with Zoltan Komoroczi, on how to regonize small scale structures, surrounding faults in sandstone from seismic and well data.

The effect of pre-existing fractures on fault evolution

View Larger Map
The MSc project of Michael kettermann, co-supervised with Christoph Gruetzner (NUG), we are looking at natural examples in Canyonlands NP, Utah (some pictures here!) and studying these effects in the laboratory using sandbox models.


Seismic paleostresses in the Nigerian Focados

We study the kinematics and dynamics of the delta faults in the Nigerian offshore. The MSc project of Bastian W., co-supervised with Hamed Fazlikhani (Geological Institute Aachen).


The analogue modeling of boudins

Boudins form when bittle layers, sandwiched between two ductile layers, or floating ontop a single ductile layer are streched and break. For his BSc-thesis, Micheal Ketterman looked in detail at the latter case. Find Michael's thesis here, and a YouTube playlist with several of his videos here.

Analogue modeling of folding and faulting in Oman

MSc thesis of Erik Wanningen (Now at Statoil), co-supervised with Marc Holland.

Coastline evolution in Croatia

Deepthi Bisth (Department of Geography, University of Cambridge), co-supervised with Marc Holland.

Geophysical methods to better visualize tight gas reservoirs

Nishank Saxena (Now in Stanford).


Picture_838 - Presentations CadaquesSince the beginning of my work at the Institute for Geologie – Endogene Dynamik in 2006, I have been actively involved with teaching of students, both on the BSc and MSc level, and also for foreign students. My teaching experience mostly focuses on computer-enhanced teaching. For example, I have been developing the course “Structural forward modeling” for MSc.-students, and lectured on “quantitative geology” a course that uses a spreadsheet-software to quantify geological processes. In addition I have been the logistical manager for several industry courses and courses held by external teachers. Every year I co-supervise a 2-day “Tectonics for beginners” field trip in the Belgium, and served as a “native guide” in the Netherlands for groups of Omani GUtech students on several occasions and have given several “town hall”-lectures on structural geology to mostly non-scientific audiences.

PhD Project


Stress and Strain from 3D seismic data

Picture_863 - BLUEENDOARROW2006-2009. The evolution of stress fields gives insight in for example the plate tectonic development of an area, and at the same time, it Dynamic information will also further the understanding of smaller scale processes such as halo kinesis, fault reactivation and tectonic inversion.

Picture_17 - stress hvg

The calculation of paleostress tensors (for example with Angeliers Direct Inversion Method, or Spangs Numerical Dynamic Analyses) is based on knowledge of both the orientation of fault planes, as well as the direction of slip on the faults. This slip vector is usually determined through direct field observations of fault kinematic indicators, such as slickenslides. This field based approach results in a relative under representation in paleostress studies of areas where the horizons of interest are not outcropping. This is particularly the case in sedimentary basins where direct fault observations are not possible.
We implement a 3-step workflow, based on the interpretation of 3D seismic volumes. We have access to the first class seismic data base of the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM, Assen, the Netherlands).
The first step entails the detailed interpretation of horizons and faults on the member level. Special attention is given to detailed interpretation of kinematic indicators such as en-echelon fault assemblages, splays, fault bifurcations and other fault interactions. Also the fault cut offs of horizons will be studied in detail.
In the next step, these detailed interpretations are palinspastically reconstructed using 3D balancing software (3Dmove, Midland Valley). This step provides the movement direction of faults. Removing of younger deformation allows the restoration of older, deeper horizons.
As a third step, fault orientation and fault slip from different time periods are used to calculate the paleostress tensor. The Numerical Dynamic Analysis was the applied method, because the dataset was observed to be to complex for the Direct Inversion Method. Because the deformation of overlying horizons was removed from deeper horizons, a paleostress stratigraphy can be constructed.
Results show that paleostresses from the NW corner of the Dutch Groningen Gasfield correspond with known data from Germany, France and Great Britain. Principle stress directions are sometimes observed to switched, but this might be the result of the position of the study area on a structural high. The observed maximum horizontal compressive stress in this study corresponds with known data, such as the Neotectonic data from the World Stress Map.

Picture_15 - Fault roughnessHVG

Looking at smaller, non-reacted faults from the Upper Cretaceous Chalk Group, it was shown that the seismic roughness of these faults is independent of the interpretation direction, and thus not a result of the interpretation uncertainty. These undulations can then be used to confine movement directions, and thus to calculate the paleostress.

Zechstein Stringer


Another interesting aspect of this work has been the first order description of the structure of the Zechstein Lower Leine Formation "stringer", a brittle layer, fully encased in ductile halites. This layer shows a wide range of structures, ranging from different kin ds of folds, over boudins to what appear to be a network early karstic zones. These thickes zones not only appear to influence later deformation, but also hint a a subtle feedback mechanism between early karst and the development of salt structures.

I published several peer reviewed papers on these topics (see below), but you can find my full dissertation here (as PDF).

Master Thesis


The modeling of open fractures in gypsum powder

Picture_863 - BLUEENDOARROW2005: Cosupervised by Janos Urai and Hans de Bresser (UU)
See here for a description of my MSc thesis.

My Publications (all)


My publications, conference contributions excluded



Heijn van Gent
Stress and strain from reflection seismic data. PhD-thesis. Geologie - Endogene Dynamik, RWTH Aachen. 198 pages (2010)
Heijn van Gent
Scaled analogue models of normal faulting in brittle lithologies, MSc-thesis, Geologie - Endogene Dynamik, RWTH Aachen University & Faculty of Earthsciences, University of Utrecht. (2005)


Peter Kukla, Janos Urai, John K. Warren, Lars Reuning, Stephan Becker, Johannes Schoenherr, Markus Mohr, Heijn van Gent, and several additional authors .
An Integrated, Multi-scale Approach to Salt Dynamics and Internal Dynamics of Salt Structures. AAPG Search and Discovery Article #40703, February 25, 2011, 87 pages. (2011)
Heijn van Gent, Janos Urai, Stefan Back, Frank Strozyk, Martin de Keijzer
The dynamics of the Dutch subsurface: paleostress and the internal geometry of the Zechstein (2011)
Heijn van Gent, Janos Urai, Marc Holland, Wanningen Erik
Sealing of Faults and Fractures by Clay Sediment on Jebel Hafeet - Field Observations and Modeling. Al Hajar, FEB2010 (16), 16-18. (2010)
Heijn van Gent, Steffen Abe, Janos Urai, Marc Holland
The formation of open fractures in cohesive materials, results of scaled analogue and numerical modelling on fault zone porosity development. EPJ Web of Conferences (European Physical Journal), 6(ICEM 14 - 14th International Conference on Experimental Mec (2010)
Heijn van Gent, Marc Holland, Janos Urai
Open fractures in Sandbox experiments. In: Dynamics of complex intracontinental basins: The Central European Basin System. Littke, R., Bayer, U., Gajewski, D. & Nelskamp, S. (Eds). Springer-Verlag, Berlin-heidelberg, 520p. (2008)

Book chapters

Shiyuan Li, Steffen Abe, Janos Urai, Frank Strozyk, Peter A. Kukla, Heijn van Gent
A method to evaluate long-term rheology of Zechstein salt in the Tertiary. In Mechanical Behaviour of Salt VII. Berest, Ghoreychi, Hadj-Hassen & Tijani (eds). 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, London (pp.215-220). (2012)
Janos Urai, Peter A. Kukla, Heijn van Gent, Steffen Abe, Guillaume Desbois, Johannes Schönherr, Zsolt Schleder, Lars Reuning, Stephan Becker
Internal Dynamics of Salt Structures. Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften (ed. Hoppe, Röhling and Schütz), Volume 68, GeoDarmstadt 2010, Darmstadt. (2010)
Jonas Kley, H J Franzke, F Jaehne, Charlote Krawcyk, Tina Lohr, Klaus Reicherter, Magdalena Scheck Wenderoth, Judith Sippel, David Tanner, Heijn van Gent
Strain and Stress. In: Littke, R., Bayer, U., Gajewski, D. & Nelskamp, S. (Eds.), Dynamics of complex intracontinental basins: The Central European Basin System. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, 98-124. (2008)


Frank Strozyk, Heijn van Gent, Janos Urai, Peter A. Kukla
3D seismic study of complex intra-salt deformation: An example from the Upper Permian Zechstein 3 stringer, western Dutch offshore. Salt Tectonics, Sediments and Prospecitivity (ed. Alsop I.), Geological Society of London, Volume 363, pp. 489-501. (2012)
Heijn van Gent, Janos Urai, Martin de Keijzer
The internal geometry of salt structures - a first look using 3D seismic data from the Zechstein of the Netherlands. Journal of Structural Geology - Special Issue: Flow of rocks: Field analysis and modeling - In celebration of Paul F. Williams' contribution to mentoring 33, 292-311. (2011)
Marc Holland, Heijn van Gent, Loic Bazalgette, Najwa Yassir, Eilard Hoogerduijn-Strating, Janos Urai
Evolution of dilatant fracture networks in normal faults - evidence from 4D model experiments. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 304: 399-406. (2011)
Stefan Back, Heijn van Gent, Lars Reuning, Juergen Groetsch, Jan Niederau, Peter A. Kukla
3D seismic geomorphology and sedimentology of the Chalk Group, southern Danish North Sea. Journal of the Geological Society 168(2), 393-406. doi: 10.1144/0016-76492010-047 (2011)
Steffen Abe, Heijn van Gent, Janos Urai
DEM Simulation of Normal Faults in cohesive Materials, Tectonophysics 512, 12-21. (2011)
Heijn van Gent, Stefan Back, Janos Urai, Peter A. Kukla
Small-scale faulting in the Upper Cretaceous of the Groningen Block (The Netherlands): 3D seismic interpretation, fault plane analysis and paleostress. Journal of Structural Geology 32, 537-553 (2010)
Heijn van Gent, Marc Holland, Janos Urai, Ramon Loosveld
Evolution of fault zones in carbonates with mechanical stratigraphy - insights from scale models using layered cohesive powder. Journal of Structural Geology, Volume 32, Issue 9, Pages 1375-1391 (2010)
Heijn van Gent, Stefan Back, Janos Urai, Peter A. Kukla, Klaus Reicherter
Paleostresses of the Groningen area, the Netherlands - results of a seismic based structural reconstruction. Tectonophysics - Progress in understanding sedimentary basins 470(1-2), 147-161. (2009)

Some of my pictures


Heijn van Gent in Ut...

Heijn Utah 2

Fault roughnessHVG


stress hvg





Picture by Frank Str...

Picture by Frank Str...








Moab Relay Ramp in A...

Delicate Arch - Arch...

Presentations Cadaqu...

GED groupshot Cadaqu...

Picture by Frank Str...


Coal power plant nea...

Inden brown coal min...

Inden brown coal min...

















Car supported GPR

Shiprock, NM. (c) He...

Geotag 2011-Vortrag ...

Geotag 2011-Ausstell...

Geotag 2011-Fotoprei...

Geotag 2011

Geotag 2011-Ausstell...

The latest!

Abstract submission for EGU (European Geosciences Union) General Assembly 2012 open now!
There will be a very interesting session on 'Salt and Evaporites – Tectonics, Mechanics and Rheology' (TS3.2) organized by Frank Strozyk, Steffi Burchadt, Heijn W. van Gent and Janos L. Urai.
A pdf of Heijn's talk last week at PGK on 'The dynamics of the Dutch subsurface: Paleostress and the internal geometry of the Zechstein' is now available online!
We posted some pictures of our latest fieldwork in Utah, together with the NUG.
Visit our talks and poster presentations at the EGU this week!
Marc's paper on 4D evolution of dilatant fault networks using cohesive modeling material is now online at Earth and Planetary Science Letters. We have uploaded a number of related videos to our YouTube Channel, including a true 3D representation of a fault zone.
We are looking for a BSc-student at the RWTH who wants to study shear zones in analogue models for his or her BSc-Thesis, using several different materials. See here for more information.
Check out the presentation on 'Salt Dynamics and Internal Dynamics of Salt Structures' on AAPG Search and Discovery. (Due to technical difficulties we cannot directly link to the presentation from here, either click on the link provided on this page, or click on the link above and search for "Urai")

We published on the 3D seismic geomorphology & sedimentology of the Chalk Group, Danish North Sea in the Journal of the Geological Society

Find an overview of all our contributions to EGU 2011 here.
Heijn' Msc-thesis is now available on the webserver of the RWTH library! Download the pdf here.
We uploaded a number of new DEM movies to our YouTube channel. These movies show the development of open fractures in numerical models, and include Stephan Tulkens' work on crack detection.
Sohrab Noorsalehi-Garakani and Heijn van Gent recieved the Heitfeldpreis 2010 for their outstanding Diplom and Dr- thesi, respectivly.
The papers of Marc on vein networks in Oman and Heijn on models of dilatant faulting using cohesive powders are now published in JSG
Download preprint of Frank's paper on 3D seismic study of complex intra-salt deformation, here, and Shiyuan's paper on numerical modeling of displacment and deformation of embedded rock bodies in salt structures, here. Both papers are accepted for publication in the Geological Society of London Special Publication on Salt

The abstract submission for EGU 2011 in Vienna is now open. Consider submitting an abstract to the session: "The influence of host rock heterogeneity on stress distribution and brittle deformation".

Also find us on LinkedIn and Facebook!