The Group has a broad and integrated interests in the structural, stratigraphic, palaeontological and depositional history of sedimentary basins and mountain belts. Particular emphasis has been placed upon developing a better understanding of the three-dimensional architecture and the reconstruction of rift systems and deformed terranes, including the Tethyan belt of Eurasia, the North Sea and Suez Rift Systems and the suturing of the Iapetus Ocean.
This theme is concerned with research into fundamental processes that govern the working of the Solid Earth as an integrated system in space and time (ranging from small to large scale). Research in this area integrates the knowledge and theory derived from a number of sub-disciplines of the earth sciences (e.g. petrology, geophysics, structural geology, sedimentology). The work utilises state-of-the-art experimental, analytical, theoretical and modelling approaches. Researchers investigate specific processes that operate within the earth at various scales (i.e. from local field observation to the scale of mountain belts). A further objective is to use the results of such specific processes oriented studies to achieve a better understanding of how the crust as a whole is constructed and evolves as a dynamic system (e.g. the Himalayas).
Palaeomagnetism, the study of fossil magnetisations in ancient rocks, is the only method for quantitatively formulating and verifying pre-Mesozoic continental reconstructions. The direction of the ancient geomagnetic field, recorded during cooling in igneous and metamorphic rocks, or during deposition in sedimentary rocks, reveals the latitude and orientation of a continental block with respect to the ancient palaeomagnetic pole (palaeopole). Comparison of paleopoles and Apparent Polar Wander Paths (APWPs) from different continents enables their ancient positions, relative to the paleopole and to each other, to be determined, and reconstructions can then be checked and improved using palaeontological, geochronological, structural and other data.
Our current research is focused on the Neoproterozoic (ca. 1000 – 540 Ma) palaeogeography. There were several major glaciations during this time interval. There is a strange and important feature about these glaciations – their tracks are often found in the continents located in the equatorial palaeolatitudes. This discovery gave a rise for several interesting theories of the Precambrian climate, including the Snowball Earth hypothesis. The only way to check these theories is to recover the detailed history of the plate tectonic movement (“continental drift”) between 1000 and 540 Ma. The present palaeomagnetic database is yet unable to produce such an unequivocal drift record– data are too fragmented and often poorly dated. Few alternative palaeogeographic models exist only for some limited time intervals. Our main aim is to improve this situation by the study of several key Neoproterozoic rock formations all over the world (in Africa, Australia, North and South America, Europe, India, and Siberia). These new palaeomagnetic data will be complimented by geochronology and stable isotope studies. The expected result is an animated global plate tectonic history supplemented by the first-order palaeoclimatic reconstructions.
Two alternative models for the 615 – 530 Ma palaeogeography (made with the PLATES software from The University of Texas in Austin)
Using a combination of field, experimental and microanalytical approaches, Edinburgh geoscientists are world leaders in research into UHT and its causes. We aim to define not only the physical conditions, ages and timescales of UHT but also the complex interplay of chemical and physical processes that dictate how the hottest deep crust behaves when continents collide.
This long-standing research group is concerned with understanding the development of the Tethys Ocean system in the Alpine-Mediterranean-Himalayan areas. Current projects include:
The group's research primarily uses seismic and sequence stratigraphic methods to investigate the structure and stratigraphy of sedimentary basins. Its main aims are to further the understanding of the development and evolution of structural styles, tectonic controls on sediment dispersal and the hydrocarbon habitat of basins. Recent studies have focused upon understanding stratigraphic patterns developed in rift systems and salt-related settings in the North Sea, the Gulf of Suez, the East African Rift and the South Atlantic. Other Studies have focused upon contractional settings and inverted sedimentary basins such as the Hellenides of Western Greece and the Wessex Basin in Southern England.
The on-going PhD projects are entitled:
On-going PhD projects are: