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Title: Controls on the evolution and character of siliciclastic deep-water syn-rift depositional systems
Author: Cullen, Timothy Martin
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 1093
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2020
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Ancient deep-water syn-rift systems provide a record of complicated interactions between changing sediment supply from multiple input points, relative base level changes, and evolving fault-related topography. Existing conceptual models have struggled to address stratigraphic variability at fine spatiotemporal scales. Outcrop investigations can address this scale gap, although exhumed systems are rare or often complicated by structural inversion. Here, the stratigraphic architecture of the Early-Mid Pleistocene West Xylokastro Fault Block (Corinth Rift, Greece) is documented using mapping, photogrammetric models, and an onshore research borehole to establish an integrated palaeoenvironmental and tectonostratigraphic evolution in a rare example of an exhumed deep-water syn-rift system. The results highlight substantial heterogeneity across a range of scales. Coeval transverse mass-wasting deposits impact the evolution of axial depositional systems through topographic forcing not captured in existing models. Structurally-induced bathymetry drives development of transient sediment bypass-dominated zones over ramps, and sediment accumulation in intra-basinal lows. Spatially, fan-apron systems pass into laterally confined channel systems over short distances (1–2km). The steep, short nature of onshore catchments and shelves makes this syn-rift system sensitive to changes in sediment supply from onshore catchments. Vegetation changes, recorded from palynological analysis of the research borehole, are integrated with magnetostratigraphic chronology and may be coherent with climate variability dictating sediment supply changes, including the development of laterally extensive mudstones. Basin physiography also permitted substantial quantities of coarse-grained material to be delivered, generating a spectrum of coarse-grained gravity flow deposits. The study provides rare examples of bed- to meso-scale architectures preserved by these flows within a constrained palaeogeographic context. The study updates existing conceptual models for the physiographic, climatic, depositional, and structural evolution of deep-water syn-rift systems. The thesis also highlights the challenges in characterising syn-rift deposits and provides quantitative data to aid understanding of tectono-stratigraphic controls and reduce uncertainty in other syn-rift systems.
Supervisor: Collier, Richard ; Hodgson, David ; Gawthorpe, Robert Sponsor: Norwegian Research Council Syn-Rift Systems Project ; ConnocoPhillips ; DNO ; Equinor ; Tullow Oil ; Neptune Energy ; University of Leeds ; AAPG Arthur Meyerhoff Memorial Grant
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available