Photo of Dr David McNamara

Dr David McNamara PhD

Senior Lecturer Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences


Research Overview

My research centres on fluid flow in the Earth's crust and how this impacts:
a) Energy-critical geological resources such as geothermal reservoirs, energy-critical-element ore bodies, and carbon capture and storage.
b) Geomechanical behaviour of the subsurface
c) Mineral vein formation / fracture sealing and its role in the crack-seal cycle
d) Geohazards such as slow slip earthquakes

I employ a range of geoscientific skills from wireline logging, borehole image logging, fault trenching, field mapping, and drill-core analysis, combined with expert skills in microanalysis of Earth materials including electron backscatter diffraction, cathodoluminesence, and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy.

Exploring the stress state, structure, and geohazards of the Hikurangi Subduction Margin, New Zealand

The Hikurangi Subduction Margin, east coast New Zealand, is the source of shallow slow slip earthquakes and submarine landslides and has been identified as a potential resource site for both offshore wind and unconventional petroleum. This project, in association with the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and GNS Science (New Zealand) sets out to enhance our knowledge of the offshore Hikurangi Subduction Margin and better understand better the geological influences on landslides and slow slip earthquakes occurring there. This theme includes research being carried out by PhD researchers Effat Behboudi and Benjamin Couvin (University College Dublin).

Determining the mechanisms, controls, and impacts of fracture sealing mineralisation in energy-critical geological resources.

This theme uses experimental and microanalytical approaches to investigate the mechanisms that facilitate mineralisation in fractured energy-critical geosystems such as geothermal reservoirs, mineral and metal ore bodies with energy-critical-element concentrations, and systems with potential for mineral capture and storage of CO2. Research in this theme aims to better understand how, and why mineralisation processes impact the Earth's subsurface, and develop new tools for the environmental and sustainable exploration and utilisation of energy-critical geosystems. This research collaborates with Dr Joshua Einsle (University of Glasgow), and includes research carried out by PhD researchers Aisling Scully (University College Cork) and Mahesh Kajendran (University of Liverpool).

Structure, stress, and fluid flow in resources for decarbonising society

This research theme seeks to understand and better characterise the interrelationships between faults, fractures, tectonic stresses, and fluid flow in important geological resources identified as way to decarbonise our society, including geothermal and CO2 storage resources. Current projects in this theme include looking at the feasibility of carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) in Ireland, collaborating with Dr Rory Monaghan and Dr Tiernan Henry (NUI Galway) to investigate the role of fault stability in Irish reservoirs identified as potential CCS sites, working with postdoctoral researcher Dr John Conneally (NUIG). It also includes research on structural controls on geothermal systems in Chile with PhD researcher Steve Beynon.

Research Group Membership

Research Grants

Exploring variation in hydrothermal alteration of the oceanic crust


February 2023 - January 2025

Exploring hydrothermal alteration mineralogy and fluid flow properties to generate next generation conceptual models of fractured geothermal systems


March 2023 - March 2025

IODP Expedition


August 2021 - December 2023

Research Collaborations

Dr Fabian Sepulveda

External: Contact Energy Ltd

Research collaboration to understand the interlinked roles geological structure, stress, and fluid flow have on the Wairakei Geothermal Field.