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Field-based analysis of deep-water sedimentary successions: the Lauzanier system, Maritime Alps, France/Italy

Prof. W.D. McCaffrey (SEE), Dr. M. Patacci (SEE), Dr. L. Barufini (ENI), Dr. M. Fonnesu

Project partner(s): Eni spa (CASE)

Contact email:


• Opportunity to undertake field-based mapping and sedimentological data collection in a stunning Alpine setting.

• Join an integrated research group, with linkage to international research associates and industry

• Attend international conferences in the Europe, the US and elsewhere

• Project sits alongside linked research as part of a larger programme

• Tutoring in career development (academia, industry and beyond)

Deep marine clastic systems are volumetrically the most important sedimentary environment on the surface of the earth.   Built by particulate gravity currents (turbidity currents, debris flows, hybrid flows), they can build a bewilderingly complex array of landforms, such as canyons, channels, levees and semi- or unconfined depositional lobes, and the transitions between them.   Depositing flows often traverse sedimentary basins where they may be fully-, partly- or unconfined, depending on the magnitude of the flow and the size of the basin.   In the present state of knowledge, the organisational style of such deposits is difficult to predict.   If the flows are unconfined, then self-governing processes of lobe deposition and compensational stacking may prevail - yet the rules governing this style of deposition remain a matter of debate; if fully confined, the present view is that tabular, non-compensating sheet-form deposits prevail, albeit possibly tapering distally - yet this understanding is currently being challenged.   

This project will assess the relative roles of internal vs. external controls in the development of sheet-form turbidite sandstone, principally through a field study in the Annot turbidite system (Maritime Alps), linked to the development of the hosting system (Fig. 1).  A further approach will be to exploit large dataset analysis to better understand lobe and sheet architecture development.    As well as developing fundamental new understanding, the work will also find practical application in the hydrocarbon industry by enabling prediction and characterisation of turbidite sheet and lobe architectures based on prior knowledge of their conditions of formation and/or their outline geometrical configuration.

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Related undergraduate subjects:

  • Earth science
  • Geological science
  • Geology
  • Geophysical science
  • Geophysics
  • Geoscience