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Continental Margins Research Group

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There is a growing need for improved understanding of the tectonic and stratigraphic processes that shape the evolution of continental margins, and application of this understanding to better prediction of margin petroleum systems. However, tectonic and sedimentary processes on continental margins are complex, variable in both space and time, and interact at all temporal and spatial scales. Timing and spatial distribution of the relevant geodynamic and geological processes are variable along continental margins and have mutual feedbacks on different spatial and temporal scales and our understanding of their impact across the range of scales is limited. We strongly believe that integrated research consisting of multi-scale plate-kinematic models, 4D numerical tectonic and stratigraphic simulations, physical experiments constrained by seismic data, other subsurface data and field analogues has great potential to address this complexity.

The Continental Margins Research Group explicitly links research methods across a wide range of scales, from tectonic plates via margins and basins, to individual stratal architectures and reservoirs with the aim to improve our understanding of the evolution of rifted continental margins. Our research projects incorporate interlocking multi-scale simulation methods through integration of plate kinematics, computational geodynamics, tectonic physical simulations, stratigraphic forward modelling, seismic interpretation and analogue field studies. Our aim is to understand the fundamental multi-scale processes of rifted continental margin formation from the large-scale of plate tectonics and mantle dynamics via regional tectonics systems and sedimentary basin to the smaller scales of depositional systems and reservoirs, by analysing the feedbacks between processes occurring at different spatial and temporal scales. The derived methods and concepts will provide a better understanding of these interlocking geological processes and will be applied to analyse explicitly the evolution of related margin-scale petroleum systems.

Research Topics and Projects include:

Plate - Lithosphere Scale

  • Plate kinematic models, effects of plate tectonic movements on plate boundary forces and stresses within plates, paleo-stress maps.
  • Dynamics of rift plume interaction and how this influences sedimentary basin evolution during continental rifting, break up and drift stages.

Lithosphere – Margin Scale

  • Variation of the crustal composition, architecture, tectonic styles and evolution along of different segments of conjugate rifted continental margins.
  • Controls of the pre-rift basement, plate tectonic stress fields, climate and regional tectono-depositional processes on variation of the margin-wide crustal architecture and basin evolution.

Margin - Basin Scale

  • 3D numerical simulation of margin-scale tectonic processes and basin formation.
  • Feedbacks between lithospheric deformation, subsidence, tectonic basin formation, and depositional architectures.
  • Regional fault kinematics, fault propagation and fault linkage of rift basins in highly anisotropic lithosphere

Basin – Reservoir Scale

  • Governing processes and feedbacks between tectonic processes and depositional systems on the basin and depositional architecture as well as their implications for the petroleum system.
  • Feedback processes between synkinematic deposition, regional tectonic and salt tectonic processes and their control on stratal architectures and basin evolution in synrift and post-rift basin settings.
  • Processes and controls of break-up unconformity development, anomalous accommodation-supply events and large clinoform systems on continental margins.

Contact: cmrg@es.rhul.ac.uk



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