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Development and Evolution of the West Greenland Passive Continental Margin

Project Description

Passive continental margins record the rifting, breakup and thermal subsidence of divergent margins and therefore their study is a key components in developing our understanding of large scale tectonic processes. However, the post-rift phase of thermal subsidence often means that such records are deeply buried and are thus difficult to study even with subsurface imaging techniques such as seismic reflection data due to attenuation of the acoustic signal with depth. In addition, the forces associated with sea-floor spreading (‘ridge push’) can cause overprinting of the early structures formed (eg by causing structural inversion of extensional faults and erosion of their hanging-wall depocentres) making it difficult to identify and separate the effects of each process. These issues are compounded when volcanic rocks, a common result of the rifting process, are present as they cause particular problems for seismic imaging as do the lateral velocity variations caused by the structural inversion.

The development of the West Greenland passive continental margin through the Cretaceous to Early Cenozoic is an example of this rift process and associated volcanism. However, it is unique in having failed to result in seafloor spreading and in having experienced geologically recent uplift which has led to preservation and shallowing of the early phases of margin formation. Consequently it has attracted interest from geoscientists who are able to better study the rifting process and also from explorationists investigating its hydrocarbon potential.

Such studies include those focusing on the onshore geology and links with the Canadian margin, those investigating the rifting process itself and those looking to study and quantify the uplift of the margin. In the offshore domain, regional studies have examined the structural evolution of the margin but have been limited by data quantity (particularly regional studies based on a few spares seismic lines) and quality. However, recent exploration activity in the area has increased the amount of available subsurface data and also led to greater availability of calibration points from borehole data. There is therefore scope to examine the structural evolution of the margin as a whole and link this to the findings from the onshore, modelling and uplift studies.

The overall aim of the PhD project is to understand the evolution of the West Greenland volcanic passive continental margin using regional subsurface data, calibrated by recent well-bores.

The project will be based in the Wouter Hoogeveen seismic lab in the Shell Centre for Exploration Geoscience in the Institute of Petroleum Engineering (IPE) and will form part of the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil and Gas thus, allowing the successful candidate to join and benefit from its prestigious, Geological Society accredited training program.
The PhD project would suit a BSc Geology or MSc Petroleum Geology student and is well aligned with a career in academia or industry.

Web links: NERC CDT:
Further information:

Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent). Scholarships will be awarded by competitive merit, taking into account the academic ability of the applicant.

Please complete our online application form and select PhD programme Petroleum Engineering, Petroleum Geoscience or Applied Geoscience within the application and include the project reference, title and supervisor names on your application. Applicants who do not include these details on their application may not be considered.

Please also provide a written proposal, at least one side of A4, outlining how you would approach the research project. You will also be required to upload a CV, a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts and one academic reference. You must also provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0 or a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 90 points.

Applicants MUST be available to start the course of study in October 2019.

Funding Notes

Scholarships will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of approximately £14,999 for the 36 month duration of the project.

Related Subjects

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