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The Ups and Downs of the Faroe-Shetland Basin

Department of Geology

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

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Dr N Schofield , Prof D Jolley , Dr D Muirhead No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Aberdeen United Kingdom Applied Geology Geophysics Geoscience Marine Geology Palaeontology Volcanology

About the Project




As part of a major new industry funded project within the

Faroe-Shetland Basin (FSB) funded by Siccar Point Energy, Equinor and Ineos Oil and Gas UK,  we are seeking an enthusiastic, dynamic,

hardworking and inquisitive individual to undertake a fully funded PhD

(complete with a large analytical budget) to investigate the regional uplift

and exhumation of the Faroe-Shetland Basin, with particular focus on boosting

knowledge to aid in further exploration within the basin.



 The NW European margin has experienced a complex

Palaeozoic–Cenozoic history with multiple phases of extension, subsidence and

compression. Knowledge of exhumation and burial associated with these tectonic

events is a fundamental requirement for accurate prediction of hydrocarbon

generation and migration, reservoir quality and seal integrity. Across

sub-basins in the Faroe-Shetland Basin (FSB), margin-wide uplift and exhumation

has been further complicated by multiple tectonic factors, including magmatism,

inversion and regional-scale uplift and tilting, that have resulted in

spatially variable exhumation across sub-basins. Factors such as igneous

overthickening (see Mark et al. 2018) and the formation of volcanic centres

(e.g. Erlend), also acted to cause localised uplift, which imprinted and

interacted with more regional aspects to change basin-floor geometry and

topography creating localized sedimentary depocenters. Together, all the

factors described above have created a very complex geological history of the

FSB which needs to be correctly defined.


The quantitative work calibrating the magnitude of uplift and

thermal history of the FSB has been mainly concentrated within the southern FSB

(e.g. Judd areas) and within the region of the Rona Ridge. In other areas of

the FSB, namely the prospective Corona Ridge, and northern FSB (e.g. Quad 208,

209, 214, 219, 220), the distribution, magnitude and chronology of exhumation,

is still poorly constrained. Within the northern FSB, which was an area which

was hoped to provide a key replenishment to the UKCS future gas

supplies, disappointing well results (e.g. Lyon (208/02-1) and the

Cragganmore appraisal (208/17a-4) have re-emphasised the need to fully

re-evaluate reservoir distribution, sediment pathways and transport into and

within the FSB sub-basins.


The effect of potential deep-seated basement structures, that may have reactivated at various times through the FSB and affected uplift and exhumation, also requires further investigation on a basin wide scale. Debate continues with regard to the presence, or not, of “transfer lineaments” which may cross the basin, and their possible role in sediment supply throughout the Mesozoic to Cenozoic. Additionally, recent work on basement rocks within the FSB has tentatively suggested the potential extension of the Moine Thrust northern splay into the FSB which may eventually cut across the basin in a NE orientation away from the Rona Ridge.


The Energy Transition is an important part of the UK’s future

and the University of Aberdeen is working at the forefront of this transition.

 However, even at the most rapid transition, the UK will still need

substantial Oil and Gas production till 2050, to support the transition and

increase energy security by reducing the UK’s reliance on oil and gas imports.

The Faroe-Shetland Basin is likely to form much of the UKCS future oil and gas

reserves needed during this transition period. 


The large analytical budget for this PhD project, coupled with

the collection of new analytical data as part of the wider research programme

in which the PhD sits, will enable the PhD student to fully investigate the

existing assumptions on the burial history of the FSB and to identify new

exploration opportunities which can be utilised by industry.


The student will join the Atlantic Margin Research Group in

Aberdeen which has a long track record and is respected in industry for

actively sharing its research and bringing new ideas to the margin. This

group has a vibrant mix of PhD students and Post-Docs who are passionate about

furthering petroleum exploration knowledge within the UK continental shelf and

further afield.


The student will be based at the University of Aberdeen.

Depending on future COVID restrictions, the chosen student will spend time

during the PhD working at Chemostrat (Wales), University of Adelaide and at

Portsmouth University. These visits will be fully funded by the project at no

cost to the successful applicant.




Individuals with MSc in Petroleum Geoscience (or equivalent)

and/or industry experience are preferred.


Exceptional BSc graduates will also be considered. 



CLOSING DATE – 15th of March 2021


To apply, please send a PDF Cover letter and CV to Nick Schofield

[Email Address Removed]


Further questions to Nick Schofield [Email Address Removed]


Please note, due to funding constraints this project is open to UK applicants only

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