Evolution of the Giant Southern North Sea Shelf-Prism: Testing sequence stratigraphic concepts and the global sea level curve with full-three dimensional control

  • Rachel Harding

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis investigates the utility of sequence stratigraphy on a regional scale and the control of eustacy on basin infill in unprecedented detail. To achieve this, the thesis utilises a wealth of data, including a continuous 3D seismic MegaSurvey dataset covering 55,000 sq. km, combined with state of the art seismic interpretation software to interpret the basin infill of the Late Cenozoic southern North Sea. The prograding shelf-prism clinoforms of the Late Cenozoic are calibrated to high density borehole penetrations, high resolution chronostratigraphy and climate proxies. The chronostratigraphic control enables a correlation of geomorphology, seismic architectures and seismic facies with full 3D control to the global sea level curve, which enables an evaluation of the impact of eustatic change on sequence development. The control of eustacy and the limitations of sequence stratigraphy are highlighted by: 1) Investigating the regional expression of chronostratigraphically calibrated seismic units, which are linked to the global sea level curve. This was carried out by mapping across the region, the dominance of oblique or sigmoidal clinoform types and seismic features such as iceberg scours, terrestrial channels and submarine fans in order to evaluate the lateral variation of depositional systems and accommodation. 2) Investigating sediment partitioning basinwards of the shelf edge and how deposition basinwards can be predicted via observations of seismic facies and architecture. This was achieved by focusing on specific seismic architectures of forced regressive slope clinoforms and deep water sedimentary systems and the link updip to the shelf within the highly constrained chronostratigraphic framework. The thesis results suggest that sequence stratigraphic models do not represent lateral variation well or integrate other allocyclic forcings on sequence development. A holistic and observation based approach to understanding basin infill and recognising the importance of sediment supply, pre-existing geomorphology, process type of the feeder system, differential subsidence, as well as eustacy, is imperative.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMads Huuse (Supervisor) & Jonathan Redfern (Supervisor)


  • Deep water
  • North Sea
  • Geology
  • Sequence Stratigraphy
  • Quaternary

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