Active submarine channel dynamics: towards improved intra-channel architecture models

Dr Jeff Peakall, Dr. Dan Parsons, Dr Esther Sumner, Dr Rafael Manica & Prof. Steve Darby
This project will address the lack of flow measurements from active systems by studying the flow dynamics of a unique active submarine channel, and linking this to the morphology and sediment patterns of the channel, enabling a process-product approach to be adopted for the first time. This approach will enable improved intra- channel architecture models of submarine channels to be developed.

Decoding the controls on sedimentary architecture: meta-studies of deep-marine depositional systems

Prof. Bill McCaffrey, Dr Luca Colombera and Dr Marco Patacci
In this project, you will work within the Turbidites Research Group (TRG) on the acquisition, database compilation and analysis of field- and literature-derived datasets of modern seascapes and ancient sedimentary successions, as studied both on outcrop and in the subsurface.

Database and outcrop-based evaluation of mass transport occurrence

Prof. Bill McCaffrey, Dr Marco Patacci and Dr Adam McArthur
Mass transport deposits can form a significant proportion of many deep marine clastic accumulations (e.g., Posamentier and Martinsen, 2011). Although they rarely form reservoir rocks (cf. Meckel, 2011) their presence is significant from an applied perspective because they can: erode existing reservoir rocks (e.g., turbidites); leave behind a scoured bathymetry that is infilled by turbidites; leave behind deposits that trap turbidity currents; act as seals. Their presence is also indicative of the boundary conditions that affect the gross system (Nelson et al., 2011). This study would exploit a relational databasing approach to assess both local and regional controls on likelihood of mass transport occurrence and depositional form, together with the associated runout ranges and deposit compositional ranges. As well as inputting data derived from the peer-reviewed literature, the candidate would collect her own field data from carefully-selected outcrop settings and/or would collect her own seismic data. The work would enable a priori estimates of debrite presence and character to be made based on an understanding of depositional setting.

External controls on the occurrence of hybrid event beds in deep water clastic depositional systems

Prof. Bill McCaffrey, Dr Marco Patacci
Hybrid event beds are a class of deep water clastic deposits characterised by the association of a clean sandy division resembling the deposit of a turbidity current and of a chaotic muddy unit resembling the deposit of a debris flow emplaced as part of a single flow event (Haughton et al., 2009). Interest in this type of deposits has surged in the last ten years, due to their common occurrence and to the high lateral heterogeneity of the chaotic muddy division and its implications for hydrocarbon reservoirs characterization (e.g. Talling, 2013). However, the external controls on the abundance of hybrid event beds in some systems and their lack of in others are still largely unknown. This study would address this research question by using a databasing approach to combine data from published scientific literature with new field data collected by the candidate.

Geological controls on scaling relationships in deep-marine depositional systems

Prof.Bill McCaffrey, Dr Marco Patacci and Dr Luca Colombera
Scaling relationships that exist between different components of a sediment routing system in the wider source-to-sink framework, or between genetically related sub-environments that form a depositional system are increasingly characterized (cf. Sømme et al., 2009; Blum et al., 2013). Building upon existing studies, this project will investigate scaling relationships that are seen to arise between different sub-components of several classified deep-marine depositional systems, as based on the analysis of morphometric data of sedimentary bodies observed in the rock record and of geomorphic units documented on the present-day sea floor. The candidate would exploit a relational databasing approach that would entail finding, standardizing, inputting and analysing geological data collected from the peer-reviewed literature, which could be integrated with purposely derived original field data. The chief aim of the project is the assessment of the sensitivity of scaling relationships to geological controls, with the purpose of deriving quantitative constraints that can be applied to the interpretation of the preserved stratigraphic record. The study will ideally result in a set of predictive tools that can find application in contexts of subsurface studies, and particularly of hydrocarbon exploration.

Global variation in submarine channel architecture.

Dr Jeff Peakall, Prof. Bill McCaffrey, Prof. Derek Ingham, Dr Alan Burns & Prof. Mathew Wells
This project will explore the role of the Coriolis force and examine whether this is the primary control on submarine channel sinuosity. Understanding of such forces and incorporation into channel architecture models should enable first order predictions to be made on submarine channel architecture, and enable a re-examination of existing models for petroleum development of submarine channel systems at higher latitudes.

Physical modelling of mudstone baffles and barriers in deep water turbidite successions

Dr Jaco H. Baas, Prof. Bill McCaffrey & Iris Verhagen
This project will be an extension of the ongoing physical experimental work on flow-substrate interaction, aiming to: (1) expand the parameter space at which the various types of interaction and sediment dispersal take place, (2) use the experimental data to establish the physical constraints for the formation of clean sand, mud and mixed sand-mud deposits, and (3) develop process-based models that are able to better predict the distribution of mudstone baffles and barriers in deep-water reservoirs. This project will thus combine closely controlled laboratory experiments with field and core studies of mixed sand-mud deep marine clastics.

Prediction of fluvial stratigraphic architecture in evolving salt-walled mini-basins: implications for reservoir prediction in the Triassic J-Block area of the Central North Sea

Dr Nigel Mountney
This project will develop a series of quantitative tectono-stratigraphic models to aid in the prediction of the distribution of effective net reservoir in fluvial successions present as the infill of salt-walled mini-basins, such as those associated with Triassic fluvial reservoirs in the J-Block of the Central North Sea.