Ailsa Quirie

Project Title: Before the Oil: The Volcanoes of the North Sea

The highly prospective Central North Sea continues to play an essential role in shaping the economy of Scotland. Its formation during the Jurassic Period, some 150 million years ago, was associated with a series of major volcanic eruptions, forming the Rattray and Ron Volcanics.

Although North Sea stratigraphy is generally well understood, the volcanic interval is still relatively unknown.  The volcanics have been intersected during hydrocarbon exploration and comprise a series of lava flows with cumulative thicknesses reaching up to 1.5km thick, illustrating the highly effusive nature of the volcanism. The lavas are interbedded with Pentland Formation sandstones and lie beneath the Kimmeridge Clay Formation, the main source rock for the North Sea petroleum system. Numerous Rattray wells contain trace hydrocarbons within the intra- and post-basaltic sands.

My PhD project aims to map in 3D the complete volcanic sequence to build up a full eruption history of the Rattray and Ron Volcanics. The edge of the lava field will be investigated to identify any potential hydrocarbon play fairway. Creation of a high resolution stratigraphy for the volcanics will allow identification of major eruption phases and hiatuses, establishing the relationship between the eruptions and the evolution of North Sea basin rifting.

Ailsa is a Carnegie PhD Scholar in the School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, supervised by Dr Nick Schofield, Senior lecturer in Igneous and Petroleum Geology.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Geology

University: University of Aberdeen

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