Subsurface analysis of deep-water lobe systems: an integrated seismic reflection and borehole approach

Supervisors: Jackson, C.A-L.1, Hodgson, D.M.2, Kane, I.A.3, Flint, S.S.3

  1. Basins Research Group (BRG), Department of Earth Science & Engineering, Imperial College, Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BP, UK
  2. Stratigraphy Group, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
  3. School of Earth an Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK

Sediment is transported from the continental shelf to the deep ocean basins by gravity flows that pass through submarine slope canyons and leveed channels and may ultimately build submarine lobes on the basin-floor. Lobe deposits are of interest as reservoirs for hydrocarbons, and sites for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Previous and ongoing work by the Lobe research group has established a detailed sedimentological and stratigraphic framework for unconfined to weakly confined lobe deposits. These studies show that the shape of the confinement is a first order control on lobe morphology and sedimentological patterns.

However, the utility and applicability of predictive models that characterise stratigraphic pinchout from outcrop-based research programmes needs critically testing against subsurface datasets to help reduced uncertainties in subsurface stratigraphic trap plays from mature (e.g. North Sea) and frontier (e.g. Wilcox Group, GoM) hydrocarbon basins. The NW Shelf of Australia provides a superb opportunity to test and refine outcrop-derived predictive models Here, publically available subsurface datasets, comprising borehole, (including well-log and core data), >105,000 km of 2D seismic, and several thousand km2 of 3D seismic reflection data allow assessment of an early post-rift, Upper Jurassic deep-water succession (Angel Formation) in the Barrow and Dampier sub-basins. These data will permit the following research questions to be answered: (i) what sedimentological and petrophysical criteria can be applied from previous Lobe project outcrop studies to support reliable identification of lobes and lobe complexes in core and well-log datasets?; (ii) which techniques can be used to image and map lobes in seismic reflection data? (iii) what level of hierarchical elements can be imaged in conventional seismic reflection data?; and (iv) how do intra- and extrabasinal factors interact and affect the development of post-rift deep-water lobes? Additional subsurface datasets will be evaluated during the course of the studentship. Key deliverables will include: (a) refined down-hole recognition criteria in core and well-log datasets for lobe elements, lobes and lobe complexes, thereby complementing outcrop-derived deliverables obtained from related Lobe phase 3 projects; (b) a suite of stratigraphic and architectural panels for lobe systems in late syn-rift to early post-rift deep-water successions; and (c) an atlas-style compilation illustrating the seismic, core and well-log expression of deep-water depositional elements. There will be the opportunity to calibrate the subsurface data with well-establish outcrop analogues, including the development of forward seismic models.

This studentship focuses on a topic of international importance, forming part of the industry-funded Lobe3 research programme. We expect you to submit manuscripts to international scientific journals during the course of your studentship, and to present the results of your research at relevant national and international conferences. The project will provide excellent training in subsurface data analysis, including process-based sedimentology, seismic reflection, and borehole interpretation including time spent core logging at the Perth Core Library, Australia. You will join one of the world's largest sedimentary basins-focused research groups, with access to world-class facilities and the support of supervisors with recognised expertise in subsurface data, structural geology, sedimentology, and stratigraphic analysis.

Application deadline is 25th March, and interviews will be held on 16th April in Leeds, UK. For more information on this studentship please contact Prof Christopher Jackson ( and complete the online application form clearly indicating the project title and primary supervisor at:

posted: 26 February 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.