Tectonostratigraphic evolution of complexly faulted margins of carbonate rift basins

Supervisor: Dr Koen Torremans
University College Dublin (UCD) - School of Earth Sciences, and Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG).

Closing date: March 10th 2021

Project description - About the project

This is a fully funded PhD project investigating how carbonate lithofacies varies in space and through time across the often complexly faulted margins of rift basins.

You will investigate the tectonostratigraphic framework and basin evolution near basin-bounding faults systems, and link this to the development and distribution of suitable carbonate host rocks for earth resources (such as base metal mineralisation, geothermal, groundwater).

The primary study area will be the Irish Carboniferous basins, initially. These basins are relatively little deformed after rifting, not intensely metamorphosed, and they contain a wealth of subsurface data. They are ideal for a study bridging observations between basin scale and outcrop and drill core scale. Your research will build on results of a country-wide assessment of faulting and regional lithofacies variation through time in the Irish Carboniferous rocks, as they developed during Tournaisian and Viséan time.

Many societally critical earth resources occur in such carbonate host rocks, especially in the Irish context, and there is a need to better characterise these and understand their distribution in the subsurface. An important practical aspect of this research project will be to establish models for the nature and distribution of suitable host-rocks and structural corridors for base metal mineralization, such as zinc, lead and copper mineralisation in the world-class Irish Orefield, which hosts the giant Navan Zn-Pb deposit.

The project is flexible and will be tailored to your interests and strengths.

Proposed methodologies

You will receive training in several methodologies. These are described here in some detail for your information, and an interest in developing these is highly recommended. While carrying out research you will develop transferable skills and critical technical skills in these methodologies, many of which are highly sought after by employers. The methodologies serve to provide improved understanding of the regional and detailed tectonic and lithofacies framework, and to provide the necessary constraints for subsurface imaging and modelling. They serve to bridge basin-scale observations to those at drill core and outcrop scale.

The research project will integrate several types of subsurface data. This includes drill cores, regional drillhole databases, mapping of coastal and quarry sections, 2D reflection seismic lines, and on-core and down-hole petrophysical and geophysical data. The research project will use the large and high-quality drillhole and reflection seismic datasets maintained at UCD/iCRAG. These are sourced from open data sources, Geological Survey Ireland data, and importantly, include critical proprietary mineral exploration data and materials.

Details of important techniques include:

  • Lithofacies and petrophysical logging of drill cores and outcrops. New on-core petrophysical data will be acquired and integrated with existing proprietary data, in collaboration with industry partners and the Geological Survey Ireland.
  • State-of-the-art 3D geological modelling and subsurface interpretation, including 2D reflection seismic interpretation, and interpretations in 3D from computer drillcore databases. You will use spatial data analytical tools in GIS packages.
  • Digital outcrop models and state-of-the-art 3D drone LIDAR and photogrammetry of many coastal and quarry outcrops. This will serve to bridge scales of observation and illustrate outcrop-scale variations.

Throughout the project, the PhD researcher will collaborate and interact with several industry partners in the mineral exploration and mining industry, and the Geological Survey Ireland. The results of this project will be of immediate interest to the mineral exploration and deep geothermal energy industry in Ireland, and to companies exploring for similar systems in carbonate basins worldwide. It is hoped that this project will provide crucial steps towards a sequence stratigraphic framework of the Mississippian rocks in Ireland, in collaboration with other ongoing projects at UCD and iCRAG.

You will join a large team of researchers at the UCD School of Earth Sciences (https://www.ucd.ie/earthsciences/), and join iCRAG, the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences who are creating solutions for a sustainable society.

Student profile

You should have a keen interest in the interplay of sedimentology, structural geology, and earth resources. You will need a strong background in at least one of these, with a degree in a related discipline.

An MSc or equivalent by experience is desirable but not required. A keen interest in collaborating with or previous exposure to any industry related to earth resources, for example the mineral exploration industry, would be considered an advantage.

You will join a diverse group of researchers, and we welcome applications from a diverse set of backgrounds.

Funding provided

This is a fully-funded scholarship funded by UCD for 4 years, covering university tuition fees for either EEA/EU or non-EEA/EU students, an annual tax-free stipend of €18,000, and a project-specific research grant covering research expenses and conferences. The funding is available to all prospective students (both EEA/EU students and international non-EEA/EU students).

The successful candidate will start in May 2021, with a UCD graduate studies application process before that. We will of course take into account the current COVID-19 situation and will discuss transitions especially for international applicants.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV and cover letter by email to for the attention of Koen Torremans (koen.torremans@ucd.ie). The CV/cover letter should include your motivation to apply, and insights into how you see your career progress. Please include contact details of two referees.

Closing date: March 10th

Informal requests to discuss further details are welcome and can be made to Koen Torremans (koen.torremans@ucd.ie).

Equality, diversity, and inclusion

UCD is committed to creating an inclusive environment where diversity is celebrated, and everyone is afforded equality of opportunity. To that end the university adheres to a range of equality, diversity and inclusion policies. We encourage applicants to consult those policies here https://www.ucd.ie/equality/ . We welcome applications from everyone, including those who identify with any of the protected characteristics that are set out in our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.

More information:

The University: http://www.ucd.ie/aboutucd.htm
College of Science: https://www.ucd.ie/science/
School of Earth Sciences: https://www.ucd.ie/earthsciences/
iCRAG: www.iCRAG-centre.org

posted: 17 February 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.