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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Impact of Coastal Tidal Resonance on Sedimentation Patterns

Published: 1 March 2011

Fully funded NERC studentship

Supervisor: Prof Paul A Carling (Geography), Prof Carl Amos (OES) and Dr Jamie Quin (Statoil)

The manner in which sediment is distributed on continental shelves is a key concern of the oil industry for successful hydrocarbon prospecting in the geological record. Recent research suggests that short-lived flow instabilities may be important agent of sediment transport. If this is correct, scientific understanding of how sand is transported and distributed and how it is transported to deep waters could change considerably - with clear implications for the identification/successful exploitation of hydrocarbons.

This project will rigorously test the instability hypothesis using hydraulic flume together with fieldwork. Hummocky cross stratification is common in marine sediments but poorly understood. It has been assumed to represent large-scale ripples but recent research suggests it is easier to explain as due to short-lived instability events (Quin, 2011). If this is the case, there are important implications for understanding of marine sediment transport. The instabilities are speculative and this project will shed light on the issue by investigating whether these instabilities exist and whether they are capable of generating HCS.

These questions will be addressed by testing a series of flows in flume experiments including interactions between oscillatory, density and parallel flows. Fieldwork will be done on classic HCS outcrops. Project will define the environmental conditions associated with hummocky strata. If instability events are involved, there are major implications for understanding of marine sediment transport. This information would be used by oil companies for numerical models of shelf/delta development. Detailed physical understanding of flow dynamics with interpretation of sediment deposits is key to identifying future hydrocarbon potential. The student will gain unique skills beneficial to oil company exploration and will attend Statoil turbidite courses plus an internship so the student is familiar with oil company exploration and so project meets needs of Statoil.

The closing date for applications is 1 April 2011.

Eligibility for this studentship is governed by the NERC – please see their website to check your eligibility BEFORE making an application:

For information on how to apply, follow these links  or contact Julie Drewitt, Graduate School Administrator on if you have any further queries.

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