HM Research Associates

Balsall Common, United Kingdom

HM Research Associates

Balsall Common, United Kingdom
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Meinhold G.,University of Cambridge | Meinhold G.,University of Gottingen | Morton A.C.,University of Cambridge | Morton A.C.,HM Research Associates | And 9 more authors.
Earth and Planetary Science Letters | Year: 2011

The geodynamic history of the Precambrian basement in central North Africa as well as the age and provenance of its sedimentary cover sequence are still poorly constrained. Here we present first detrital zircon ages (obtained by LA-SF-ICP-MS and SHRIMP) from Paleozoic and Mesozoic sandstones of the eastern Murzuq Basin, southern Libya, which unconformably overlie the Saharan Metacraton. Establishing the age and provenance of these sandstones has important implications for our understanding of the evolution of northern Gondwana during the Paleozoic, especially for reconstructions of paleo-source areas and transport paths.Detrital zircons from the sandstones show mainly early Paleozoic to Neoarchean ages with four main age populations, at 2750-2500. Ma (8%), 2200-1750. Ma (16%), 1060-920. Ma (18%), and 720-530. Ma (39%). About 13% of all concordant grains yield ages of 1600-1000. Ma. In addition, there are 9 zircon grains (0.7% of all concordant grains) with ages of 3600-2800. Ma. The presence of a high number of ca. 1. Ga zircons is enigmatic and their origin is controversial. Besides direct sourcing from ca. 1. Ga igneous rocks in eastern Chad and ca. 1. Ga igneous rocks along the southeastern margins of the Congo and Tanzania cratons, recycling of Neoproterozoic sediments containing ca. 1. Ga zircons is another alternative hypothesis to explain the presence of ca. 1. Ga zircons in the Paleozoic sedimentary sequence of central North Africa. The ubiquitous occurrence of ca. 1. Ga zircons in Paleozoic sediments of southern Libya provides insights into the correlation and paleotectonic arrangement of Gondwana-derived terranes, present, for example, in the eastern Mediterranean and in southwestern Europe. Current paleotectonic models of dextral terrane transport along the northern Gondwana margin during the early Paleozoic may need to be revised. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Morton A.,HM Research Associates | Morton A.,University of Cambridge | Fanning M.,Australian National University | Jones N.,British Geological Survey | Jones N.,Saudi Aramco
Geological Magazine | Year: 2010

The zircon age spectrum in a sample from the Canonbie Bridge Sandstone Formation (Asturian) of southern Scotland contains two main peaks. One is Early Carboniferous in age (348-318 Ma), and corresponds to the age of igneous activity during the Variscan Orogeny. The other is of late Neoproterozoic to early Cambrian age (693-523 Ma), corresponding to the Cadomian. Together, these two groups comprise 70 % of the zircon population. The presence of these two peaks shows unequivocally that a significant proportion of the sediment was derived from the Variscides of western or central Europe. The zircon population also contains a range of older Proterozoic zircons and a small Devonian component. These could have been derived from the Variscides, but it is possible that some were locally derived through recycling of northerly derived sandstones of Devonian-Carboniferous age. The zircon age data confirm previous suggestions of Variscide sourcing to the Canonbie area, made on the basis of petrographical, heavy mineral and palaeocurrent evidence, and extend the known northward distribution of Variscan-derived Westphalian sediment in the UK. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010.


Stoker M.S.,British Geological Survey | Kimbell G.S.,British Geological Survey | McInroy D.B.,British Geological Survey | Morton A.C.,HM Research Associates | Morton A.C.,University of Cambridge
Marine and Petroleum Geology | Year: 2012

A regional study of the Eocene succession in the UK sector of the Rockall Plateau has yielded new insights into the early opening history of the NE Atlantic continental margin. Data acquired from British Geological Survey borehole 94/3, on the Rockall High, provides a high-resolution record of post-rift, Early to Mid-Eocene, subaqueous fan-delta development and sporadic volcanic activity, represented by pillow lavas, tuffs and subaerial lavas. This sequence correlates with the East Rockall Wedge, which is one of several prograding sediment wedges identified across the Rockall Plateau whose development was largely terminated in the mid-Lutetian. Linking the biostratigraphical data with the magnetic anomaly pattern in the adjacent ocean basin indicates that this switch-off in fan-delta sedimentation and volcanism was coincident with the change from a segmented/transform margin to a continuously spreading margin during chron C21. However, late-stage easterly prograding sediment wedges developed on the Hatton High during late Mid- to Late Eocene times; these can only have been sourced from the Hatton High, which was developing as an anticline during this interval. This deformation occurred in response to Mid- to Late Eocene compression along the ocean margin, possibly associated with the reorganisation to oblique spreading in the Iceland Basin, which culminated at the end of the Eocene with the formation of the North Hatton Anticline, and the deformation (tilting) of these wedges. A series of intra-Eocene unconformities, of which the mid-Lutetian unconformity is the best example, has been traced from the Rockall Plateau to the Faroe-Shetland region and onto the Greenland conjugate margin bordering the early ocean basin. Whilst there appears to be some correlation with 3rd order changes in eustatic sea level, it is clear from this study that tectonomagmatic processes related to changes in spreading directions between Greenland and Eurasia, and/or mantle thermal perturbations cannot be discounted. © 2011.


Vincent S.J.,University of Cambridge | Morton A.C.,University of Cambridge | Morton A.C.,HM Research Associates | Hyden F.,Oil Quest | Fanning M.,Australian National University
Marine and Petroleum Geology | Year: 2013

The Eastern Black Sea is one of the few remaining underexplored hydrocarbon basins in Europe. Reservoir quality is a key risk factor in the basin. The analysis of up-dip portions of Oligocene to Pliocene depositional systems exposed around its northern and eastern margins enable the composition and provenance of sandstones within the basin to be predicted. Two major sources of quartz-rich sandstone are present: the Russian western Greater Caucasus, which became a subaerial sediment source in the Oligocene, and the East European Craton-Scythian Platform. These are predicted to form better quality reservoirs at shallow and moderate burial depths than their rock fragment-rich counterparts, due to lesser amounts of compactional porosity loss. Oligo-Miocene sandstones from the Russian western Greater Caucasus were deposited as turbidites in the Tuapse Trough. Sandstones from the East European Craton-Scythian Platform were largely trapped within the Indolo-Kuban Basin north of the Greater Caucasus. They only entered the Eastern Black Sea in large volumes from latest Miocene or Pliocene time in the region of the Kerch-Taman shelf at the western tip of the Greater Caucasus. However, it is possible that a precursor to this system supplied the Oligocene to Early Miocene reservoir sandstones within the Subbotina field. The Dziruli Massif, in western Georgia, also generated quartz-rich sandstones, but these are not thought to have entered the Black Sea. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Meinhold G.,University of Gottingen | Morton A.C.,University of Cambridge | Morton A.C.,HM Research Associates | Avigad D.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Gondwana Research | Year: 2013

We present a synopsis of detrital zircon U-Pb ages of sandstones from North Africa and neighboring Israel and Jordan, which allows us to identify zones with characteristic sediment provenance along the northern Gondwana margin (in present-day coordinates) in Cambrian-Ordovician times, and helps us to unravel the peri-Gondwana jigsaw puzzle. A special feature of the early Paleozoic cover sequence of North Africa is the eastward increase of 1.1-0.95. Ga detrital zircons, which become ubiquitous in the early Paleozoic sandstones of the Saharan Metacraton. Detrital zircons aged about 2.7-2.5, 2.15-1.75 and 0.75-0.53. Ga are also present. Early Paleozoic sandstones with similar provenance are known from peri-Gondwana terranes in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean and from NW Iberia. These terranes need not be transported from western Gondwana (Amazonia) as suggested previously. They were likely located to the north of the Saharan Metacraton during the early Paleozoic before they rifted off from Gondwana. Furthermore, we recognize an increase, as stratigraphic ages get younger, of ca. 1.0. Ga detrital zircons at some point between the Late Cambrian and late Middle Ordovician. We speculate that this might be linked to far-field tectonics and regional uplift in central Gondwana related to plate-tectonic reorganization along the Gondwana margin, leading to erosion of ca. 1.0. Ga basement and country rocks of the Transgondwanan supermountain and fluvial dispersal of detritus toward the Gondwana margin. © 2012 International Association for Gondwana Research.


Ray D.C.,University of Portsmouth | Richards T.D.,University of Worcester | Brett C.E.,University of Cincinnati | Morton A.,HM Research Associates | And 2 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology | Year: 2013

The Late Wenlock Series (Homerian Stage) of the central Midland Platform occupies an area stretching from Ledbury to the Malvern, Suckley and Abberley Hills. Based upon the establishment of a sequence stratigraphic framework for the Much Wenlock Limestone Formation, and the immediately under- and over-lying Coalbrookdale and Lower Elton Formations, comparisons can now be made with key sections across the northern Midland Platform and beyond. These correlations have been strengthened by the determination of apatite rare earth element (REE) geochemical signatures obtained from four volcanic ash layers (bentonites) at Whitman's Hill Quarry (Herefordshire), which allow for comparisons with published coeval sections at Wren's Nest Hill (West Midlands) and Wenlock Edge (Shropshire), as well as with bentonites described from the Island of Gotland (Sweden).Across the study area fifteen parasequences associated with two pronounced regressive episodes, separated by a marked transgression, can be identified. The lithological responses to these relative sea-level changes are the same as those reported from the West Midlands, including the threefold division of the Much Wenlock Limestone Formation into Lower Quarried Limestone, Nodular Beds and Upper Quarried Limestone Members. Apatite REE geochemical signatures from Whitman's Hill Quarry identify three bentonites which probably originated from a granodiorite magmatic source, while a fourth bentonite has a distinctively mafic composition, more akin to that of a gabbro or syenite. This distinctively mafic bentonite is preserved on a marked flooding surface within the Nodular Beds Member and appears compositionally and stratigraphically equivalent to a bentonite at Wren's Nest Hill (West Midlands). Furthermore in both sections this bentonite is of notable thickness (120-200. mm) allowing for its identification in other sections across the region. Comparisons with Gotland identify three closely spaced bentonites of a similar mafic composition to the bentonite described from the Midland Platform. While similarities in stratigraphic position and composition do not, at present, allow for the identification of a single ash fall event covering both the Midland Platform and Gotland, they are indicative of a shared source region, which may offer the possibility for future bentonite correlation between these regions. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Krippner A.,University of Gottingen | Meinhold G.,University of Gottingen | Morton A.C.,University of Cambridge | Morton A.C.,HM Research Associates | Von Eynatten H.,University of Gottingen
Sedimentary Geology | Year: 2014

This work is an attempt to evaluate six different garnet discrimination diagrams (one binary diagram and five ternary diagrams) commonly used by many researchers. The mineral chemistry of detrital garnet is a useful tool in sedimentary provenance studies, yet there is no clear-cut understanding of what garnet type originates from which host lithology. Several discrimination diagrams exist for garnet showing distinct compositional fields, separated by strict boundaries that are thought to reflect specific types of source rocks. For this study, a large dataset was compiled (N = 3532) encompassing major element compositions of garnets derived from various host lithologies, including metamorphic, igneous, and mantle-derived rocks, in order to test the applicability of the various discrimination schemes. The dataset contains mineral chemical data collected from the literature complemented with some new data (N = 530) from garnet-bearing metamorphic and ultramafic rocks in Austria and Norway. Discrimination of the tested diagrams only works for a small group of garnets derived from mantle rocks, granulite-facies metasedimentary rocks, and felsic igneous rocks. For other garnet types, the assignment to a certain type of host rock remains ambiguous. This is considered insufficient and therefore the evaluated diagrams should be used with great care. We further apply compositional biplot analysis to derive some hints towards future perspectives in detrital garnet discrimination. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


Morton A.,HM Research Associates | Morton A.,University of Cambridge | Milne A.,British Petroleum
Petroleum Geoscience | Year: 2012

Hydrocarbons in the Clair Field, west of the Shetland Islands, are hosted by Devonian-Carboniferous clastic red beds deposited in a non-marine fluviolacustrine setting. The succession is almost entirely biostrati-graphically barren and, hence, alternative approaches to reservoir correlation are required. Heavy mineral analysis (HMA), which subdivides clastic successions on the basis of changes in provenance and sediment transport history, has proven successful in establishing a high-resolution correlation framework for the Clair Field. Since the technique offers a reliable and rapid method for monitoring the stratigraphy of the Clair reservoir succession, HMA has been undertaken on a real-time basis at well site for virtually all development wells during Phase 1 of the Clair Field development, and for all Phase 2 appraisal wells. Heavy mineral data can be acquired in less than 2 hours from receipt of sample. Consequently, owing to the relatively slow penetration rates frequently associated with Clair drilling, stratigraphic information is usually acquired ahead of logging while drilling. Heavy mineral data are used in the decision-making process in a variety of situations, including picking of casing and coring points, whether to maintain or alter well trajectory, and when to terminate drilling. In the Clair Field, formation tops can be subtle and, since HMA can establish trends and predict formation changes before they are encountered, they are critical in aiding geosteering decisions. HMA has also been used to monitor stratigraphy and to pick formation tops when logging tools have failed, allowing drilling to continue and avoiding tripping to change the bottom-hole assembly. The application of HMA to the Clair Field development is illustrated by reference to a number of wells drilled on the field since 2005. © 2012 EAGE/Geological Society of London.


Ando S.,University of Milan Bicocca | Morton A.,HM Research Associates | Morton A.,University of Cambridge | Garzanti E.,University of Milan Bicocca
Geological Society Special Publication | Year: 2015

Amphibole and garnet are among the most widespread heavy minerals in orogenic sediments. Their chemical composition and optical properties vary markedly and systematically with temperature and pressure conditions during growth, and thus provide important information on the metamorphic evolution of source areas that is crucial in palaeotectonic and palaeogeodynamic reconstructions. This study investigates the chemical composition of detrital amphiboles and garnets derived from parent rocks of progressively increasing metamorphic grade through a well-studied composite section across the Central and Southern Alps, including the granulitefacies core of the Late Palaeozoic orogen exposed in the Ivrea-Verbano Zone and the amphibolite- facies core of the Cenozoic orogen exposed in the Lepontine Dome. We specifically focus on metamorphic grade because it represents the best proxy for tectono-stratigraphic crustal level, and hence degree of unroofing of source areas. In river sands collected between metamorphic isograds corresponding to crystallization temperatures ranging from c. 500 °C to c. 850 °C, TiO2 gradually increases in detrital amphibole while its colour progressively changes from blue-green in the lower amphibolite-facies where actinolite, hornblende and tschermakite are most abundant, to brown in the granulite facies where pargasite is dominant. Detrital garnets display moderate gradual changes across the amphibolite-facies Lepontine Dome, where low-Mg 'type B' garnets predominate. Almandine-spessartine is spatially associated with abundance of pegmatites while entering the zone of anatexis (Southern Steep Belt), where grossular or grossular-andradite-spessartine are occasionally found. A sharp change occurs while reaching granulite-facies in the Ivrea-Verbano Zone, where high-Mn garnets disappear and 'type A' almandine-pyrope (from 'stronalite' metasediments) and 'type C' almandine-pyropegrossular (from metagabbros of the Mafic Complex) predominate. Also redefined in this article are a series of numerical indices based on amphibole colour and relative abundances of diverse key minerals (chloritoid, staurolite, andalusite, kyanite, fibrolitic and prismatic sillimanite), useful to accurately assess the average metamorphic grade of meta-igneous and metasedimentary source rocks. © The Geological Society of London 2014.


Meinhold G.,University of Cambridge | Morton A.C.,University of Cambridge | Morton A.C.,HM Research Associates | Fanning C.M.,Australian National University | Whitham A.G.,University of Cambridge
Geological Magazine | Year: 2011

Electron microprobe analyses of 128 detrital rutile grains from two Jurassic sandstone samples (Hettangian and Bajocian-Bathonian in age) from hydrocarbon exploration wells on the Norwegian margin confirm that more than 85 % of the rutiles were derived from metapelitic rocks. Zr-in-rutile geothermometry confirms that about 83 % of the rutile was formed under high-grade metamorphism (>750 C). Sixty-two rutile grains, including 60 of the identified high-temperature rutile population, were also analysed for U-Pb geochronology using SHRIMP. The 206Pb-238U rutile ages range from approximately 485-292 Ma, with a major cluster between 450 and 380 Ma. These data suggest that the detrital rutile was predominantly derived from a felsic source that experienced granulite-facies metamorphism about 450-380 Ma ago. This conclusion is consistent with derivation from high-grade Caledonian metasedimentary rocks, probably the Krummedal sequence in central East Greenland, as previously suggested by an earlier provenance study using conventional heavy mineral analysis, garnet geochemistry and detrital zircon age dating. The present study underscores the importance of rutile geochemistry and geochronology in quantitative single-mineral provenance analysis of clastic sedimentary rocks. © 2010 Cambridge University Press.

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