Research Area: Exploration

Architecture and evolution of glacier-influenced Arctic margins

Project Number: 6273
Project Duration: 01.10.18 - 31.09.21

Project manager: Ståle Johansen, NTNU
Division Head: Kjell Sunde, Equinor


The Quaternary Period (last c.2.6 million years) has been characterised by a distinctive pattern of alternating glacial and interglacial cycles. The successive advance and retreat of ice sheets across mid- and high-latitude continental margins during the Quaternary had a significant impact on the architecture and evolution of the shelf and slope through ice loading and large-scale and often rapid sediment erosion and deposition. The increasing availability of industry seismic data provides unique data coverage and resolution, allowing spatial and temporal patterns of ice-sheet erosion and deposition to be investigated in unprecedented detail.











The North Sea and Norwegian continental shelf probably have the most extensive data coverage of all glacier-influenced sedimentary regimes on Earth. In this project, 2D and 3D seismic data will be used to investigate how Quaternary environmental change has affected the rate and style of sedimentation in the North Sea and on the Norwegian margin, including the transition from ‘greenhouse’ to ‘icehouse’ conditions at the beginning of the Quaternary. An understanding of palaeo-ice sheet behaviour is essential to constrain numerical models of past environmental conditions and to further our knowledge of the processes that are operating beneath contemporary ice sheets. Information on the extent and thickness of past ice sheets is also needed for modelling the isostatic response of continental margins to ice loading and sediment deposition/erosion. In addition, large sand bodies, such as those identified in the Quaternary North Sea Basin, can have important seal-potential for trapping hydrocarbons, potentially representing new and economically interesting reservoirs.

Relevant publications

Ottesen, D., Batchelor, C., Dowdeswell, J.A. and Løseth, H., 2018. Morphology and pattern of Quaternary sedimentation in the North Sea Basin. Marine and Petroleum Geology 98, 836-859. doi:10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2018.08.022.

Batchelor, C.L., Ottesen, D., Dowdeswell, J.A. (oral presentation). Quaternary evolution of the northern North Sea margin through glacigenic debris-flow and contourite deposition. Colloquium on Norwegian Research Activities within the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), 29th-30th October 2018, Trondheim, Norway.

PostDoc: Christine Batchelor

E-mail: clb70@cam.ac.uk
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