Portrait of Dr Cedric Griffiths who is Theme Leader for CSIRO Petroleum’s Maximising Australia’s Oil Self-Sufficiency program.

Dr Cedric Griffiths, Theme Leader: Maximising Australia’s Oil Self-Sufficiency

Dr Cedric Griffiths: understanding the underground

Dr Cedric Griffiths is a geologist with a fascination for using computers to predict what lies underground in the Earth’s strata.

  • 28 September 2007 | Updated 14 October 2011

Dr Cedric Griffiths is CSIRO's Research Group Leader for Predictive Geoscience.


Dr Cedric Griffiths joined CSIRO in 2000. He leads CSIRO’s predictive geoscience program and the stratigraphic modelling group.

Dr Griffiths has helped to develop three-dimensional (3D) Stratigraphic Forward Modelling (SFM).

SFM is a computer-based technique providing 3D simulations of sediments arrangement in the earth’s crust over a range of time scales.

Dr Griffiths has contributed to quantitative stratigraphic programs for:

  • reservoir characterisation
  • hydrocarbon exploration.

This modelling helps geoscientists and engineers understand basin fill processes, the location of stratigraphic traps for oil and gas and to predict the reservoir quality.

“What motivates me is to improve our quantitative understanding of basin depositional processes by providing the profession with the tools to do that effectively.”
Dr Cedric Griffiths, Research Group Leader

Process modelling

Dr Griffiths cites Professor John Harbaugh at Stanford University as his greatest influence.

'He was instrumental in publishing about process modelling in the early 1970’s. He taught me to see the role of geological modelling of all types in a predictive context, both from the scientific and industrial challenge viewpoints. And he challenged me to bring SFM out into the world,’ said Dr Griffiths.

Dr Griffiths has always loved mountains and outdoor life. He has been fascinated with geology since youth, and he enjoys the challenge of understanding what lies underground.

Dr Griffith’s major interests are predictive sedimentary geology and moving students and practitioners away from description.

'What motivates me is to improve our quantitative understanding of basin depositional processes by providing the profession with the tools to do that effectively,’ said Dr Griffiths.

‘We still can’t predict a few missing centimetres of core after nearly 300 years of geological studies and that is disgraceful. I would die happy if sedimentary geology and stratigraphy were routinely taught in every country using 3D numerical process models as the basic tool.’


Among his major career achievements, Dr Griffiths is most proud of having started a new field of geosyntax (geo-linguistics) and of his geological mapping of 7 500 square kilometres of central Africa. He ‘built a picture of part of earth’s history in a tiny corner of the globe’ by integrating information from:

  • satellite
  • air photos
  • foot traversing
  • drilling
  • outcrop sampling.

'I am pleased at the progress that has been made in slowly chipping away at the resistance to process modelling in the sedimentology community. In the process I have very much enjoyed working with some really stimulating intellects.'

Read more about CSIRO Earth Science and Resource Engineering.