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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 (e.g. 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 (seismic and borehole) data including high fidelity 3D data volumes, all of which are available to this project. 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 GeoEnergy Engineering (IGE) and will take advantage 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/MSc Geology, MSc Petroleum Geology student or similar and is well aligned with a career in academia, government agency, research centre or industry.

To make an application please visit the website.

Funding Notes

The scholarship will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of approximately £15,009 for the 36 month duration of the project and is available to applicants from the UK, EU and overseas.

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