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Part III Options: Geophysics

GA: Continental Tectonics

Alex Copley

This course will describe the causes, nature, and consequences of the active deformation of the continents. The course will begin with a discussion of the earthquake cycle (building upon the material in part 2), and the observations and models that can be used to understand the material properties and behaviour of both earthquake-prone and creeping fault zones, and of the underlying ductile lithosphere. The second section of the course will discuss how active faulting accommodates regional extension, compression, and strike-slip deformation. The characteristics of the deformation in each type of tectonic setting will be described, along with the factors that control the configuration and evolution through time of the faulting, and the resulting geological and topographic structures. The third section will focus on the origin and evolution of continental cratons and cores, and their role in controlling the tectonics of the continents. Finally, the course will cover the forces and material properties that control the evolution and behaviour of mountain ranges. The course covers both observational and theoretical aspects of continental deformation, and describes the current state of knowledge and ongoing debates in the subject area.

Theory paper: 1.5 hours, answer two questions from a choice of three

Practical paper (early Easter Term): 1.5 hours, answer all questions

Marks split 60% to theory paper and 40% to practical paper

 

GB: Basin Dynamics and Hydrocarbon Exploration

Nicky White

The Basin Dynamics and Hydrocarbon Exploration Part III option is divided into three closely linked sections. The first section concerns regional subsidence and uplift associated with lithospheric stretching and other epeirogenic processes, respectively. Here, the emphasis will focus on using simple calculations and rules of thumb to analyse basin-scale observations. The use of these observations for hydrocarbon exploration will also be investigated. The second section builds upon previous courses which introduced seismic reflection profiling. Four-dimensional (i.e. time-lapse) seismic imaging will be described and applied to the environmentally important problem of Carbon Dioxide storage beneath the seabed. The novel use of seismic imaging for analyzing thermohaline circulation of abyssal oceanic basins will be described. In the third section, we will explore how convective circulation of the Earth's mantle is manifest at the surface as a function of space and time. It will be shown how observations of this dynamic topography place important constraints upon the viscosity structure of the mantle. A global analysis of observed dynamic topography can be used to account for a variety of hitherto perplexing stratigraphic observations. A variety of regional case histories from the North Atlantic Ocean, from Africa, and from Northwest Australia will be discussed. Finally, the way in which hydrocarbon exploration companies are utilizing dynamic topographic observations will be summarized.

Theory paper: 1.5 hours, answer two questions from a choice of three

Practical paper (early Easter Term): 1.5 hours, answer all questions

Marks split 60% to theory paper and 40% to practical paper

 

Geophysics options Lent Term 2017

GEOPHYS A Continental Tectonics Dr Alex Copley Wks 1-4, W. F. 11-1
Exam code: GA Room: Tilley/PetLab
GEOPHYS B Basin Dynamics and Hydrocarbon Exploration Prof. Nicky White Wks 5-9, W. F. 11-1
Exam code: GB Room: Tilley/PetLab

 

Past Tripos papers