Through the iSIMM Principal Investigators the project brings together for the first time the following areas of UK-based international expertise:
Nick Kusznir's Basin Modelling Group at Liverpool University have a proven record for developing new and usable models for the geodynamics of rift basins, passive margins and orogenic belts.
Bob White's research group at Cambridge University are recognized as leaders in the fields of marine geophysics, crustal seismology and igneous processes.
Schlumberger Cambridge Research bring to the project the leading-edge seismic-acquisition and seismic-processing technologies of the Schlumberger group.
Badley Geoscience Ltd are an established oil & gas consultancy, specialising in structural geology and geophysics, with a proven record of converting academic research into mainstream software for the oil & gas industry.
Together with our oil company partners we have assembled a powerful interdisciplinary team to tackle two of the biggest problems facing hydrocarbon explorationists on the NW European Atlantic margin, and on all other volcanically-dominated margins. These are:
The inability of conventional seismic reflection methods to image through basalt layers overlying sediments.
The failure of current models and software to model properly the stretching, subsidence and thermal history of rifted continental margins.
The combination of our modelling and seismic acquisition skills will enable us both to image the surface-extruded and lower-crustal-intruded igneous component and to model the development of rifted margins where there is heterogeneous stretching and non-conservation of mass due to the addition of melt. This work is central to the scientific objectives of the Ocean Margins Link programme. We anticipate that both the modelling and the improved seismic imaging will be developed commercially for widespread use in the hydrocarbon industry.
The new rifted-margin model will be developed from quantitative models of mantle flow, melt generation and transport previously applied to oceanic ridges and will incorporate continental rheology as an initial condition. It will have generic applicability to both non-volcanic and volcanic margins around the world. We shall apply this model to a study of heterogeneous stretching and anomalous subsidence along the entire NW European Atlantic margin, using a combination of data already available and new seismic data to be acquired by both university and industrial collaborators in this research programme. There will be a close synergy between the mapping of igneous material in the crust by the seismic projects on the Færoes-Shetland and Hatton-Rockall Basins and its incorporation as ground truth in the theoretical models.
We will address the seismic-imaging problem by developing techniques using very long-offset streamers and wide-angle imaging with ocean bottom seismometers (OBS) to penetrate through the basalts. We will acquire data in two sites, the first a 350-km profile crossing the Færoes shelf and its oblique continental margin into the oceanic crust of the Møre Basin, using both a state-of-the-art Q streamer system from Schlumberger Geco-Prakla and an array of ~100 OBS with spacings of 500-5000m. The second survey will be of the heavily intruded continent-ocean transition of the Hatton-Rockall Basin where we shall deploy ~100 OBS in an array across the margin. Both surveys will constrain basement thickness and the distribution of igneous rocks in the crust. This work will also examine possible lower-crustal seismic anisotropy produced by multiple sill intrusions and oceanic crustal thickness variations after breakup in order to infer the magnitude of temperature changes caused by pulsing of the Iceland mantle plume.
Further information on the full iSIMM project can be found in the PDF file accessible from the link below. This illustrated document captures the full scientific case for the project, as put to NERC and the DTI, and contains biographical information on the project PIs. (891KB)