Virtual Field Trips: Around the world 2 (July 2021)

27 July - 5 August 2021

Ticket Type Price Qty*

Member Ticket

£95.00 (GBP)

Non-Member Ticket

£125.00 (GBP)

Course Description

Session 1 | Structural Complexity in the ‘Simply Folded Zone’ of the Zagros
Facilitator: Richard Jones
Date: Tuesday 27 July 2021
10:00am – 12:00pm

The Zagros is classic area of hydrocarbon exploration that is renowned for its large four-way closing anticlines that form ideal structural traps. Although the geometry of folding looks simple at a regional scale, at outcrop to license block scales there is a wealth of structural complexity that can have a marked impact on prospectivity. This trip will visit key outcrops that illustrate the following themes:

  • Typical examples of structural complexity and heterogeneity at outcrop to anticline scales – and the implications for exploration;
  • The influence of mechanical stratigraphy on the hydrocarbon system; and why it creates a ‘win-win-win’ in the Zagros;
  • Why an understanding of regional tectonics is so important – and how geology seen in outcrop confirms what we see in the recent GPS and earthquake data.

Session 2 | Structural Complexity – Fractured basement reservoirs
Facilitator: Susie Daniels & Richard Jones
Date: Thursday 29 July 2021
10:00am – 12:00pm

Recognising the complexity of naturally fractured reservoirs is critical to successful development. In basement plays, there is inherent complexity because of the extreme porosity and permeability contrast between the fracture network and the crystalline host rock. This virtual field trip will visit outcrops in NW Scotland that highlight recent work, and will include the following themes:

  • Crystalline basement lithologies, and typical fracture network geometries;
  • The importance of scaling relationships in fracture systems;
  • Additional porosity related to sand-filled fissures;
  • Basement-cover relationships, and the significance of weathering profiles;
  • Beyond hydrocarbon – basement plays for geothermal energy and CCUS.

Session 3 | Namibia
Facilitator: John Howell
Date: Tuesday 03 August 2021
10:00am – 12:00pm

The Lower Cretaceous deposits of NW Namibia provide a unique opportunity to study the internal structure of aeolian dunes and the interaction of sediments and lavas. Rifting associated with the break up of Gondwana created accommodation for the preservation of aeolian deposits in a series of half grabens. Eruption of the Etendeka lavas, extruded basalt into the active dune field. The initial lavas ponded in the interdune corridors, after which the dune field was re-established. In the ensuing battle between the sediment and lava 6 phases of eruption were followed by dune reorganisation until the erg was eventually buried. The result of this interaction between sediment and lava is a uniquely fossilised dune system.

Aeolian systems typically deposit sand as dunes migrate down wind and climb over the preceding dune. As the angle of climb is much lower than the height of the bedform, only the basal part is normally preserved (typically less than 20%). In these examples, the eruption of the lavas onto the active sand-sea preserved dunes in their entirety. This provides a fascinating insight into the internal structure of the bedfroms. In the largest example, we will visit a fully preserved, 90 m high dune, showing the internal evolution from a large, simple slipfaced system into a compound dune with superimposed bedforms. Towards the top of the stratigraphy we will see individual solitary barchan dunes engulfed and preserved in lavas.

While the features seen on this trip are unique, they provide significant insight into aeolian reservoirs such as the Rotliegend of the Southern North Sea and the Norphlet of the Gulf of Mexico. The preserved dune topography is comparable to that preserved at the top of the Rotliegend by the Zechstein transgression. The same aeolian/lava system provides reservoirs offshore Namibia (Kudu Gas Field) and in Brazil (Botucatu Sst). The system also has important lessons for understanding sediment lava interactions and diagenesis and compartmentalisation associated with igneous intrusions.

Key aspects include

  • An introduction to the Huab Basin of northern Namibia
  • Large dunes engulfed in lava – insights into aeolian bedform architecture and the top Rotliegend topography
  • Ponding of lavas within interdune lows – lava texture and chemistry
  • Minor dunes and bypass surfaces
  • Diagenesis and compartmentalisation associated with lavas and sills

The fieldtrip is based on a series of drone derived, virtual outcrops augmented with data collected over 20 years of fieldwork. The study area is extremely remote and not on the normal fieldtrip circuit, even in non-covid times. This virtual fieldtrip will provide a unique opportunity to visit some truly fascinating deposit which have significant lessons for the subsurface. Visit for a taster. The fieldtrip will be delivered in LIME, a purpose built software developed by the presenter and colleagues over the last 15 years. Data will be taken from, a repository of over 400 virtual outcrops and other analogue data.

Session 4 | Fluvial and Tidal Reservoir Heterogeneity
Facilitator: Gary Nichols in conjunction with Imaged Reality
Date: Thursday 05 August 2021
10:00am – 12:00pm

The session will use 3D outcrop models from a variety of locations to explore different scales of heterogeneity in fluvial and tidally-influenced sandstone units.

  • System-scale fluvial sedimentology: considering tributary and distributive patterns of channels in predicting sandstone body distribution
  • Fluvial channel-sandstone body architectures: stacking patterns in space and time
  • Heterogeneity within fluvial channel-fills: lateral accretion surfaces and bar complexes
  • Estuarine successions unrelated to incised valley fills: tidally-influenced transgressive coastal deposits in the stratigraphic record
  • Sediment body geometries and internal heterogeneities in tidal sands in coastal and shelf settings

The session, in which participants will be able to interact, will be delivered using 3DGaia – a multiuser, interactive, remote collaboration platform for Geoscience, developed by Imaged Reality. PC users who have registered for the course are invited to actively participate in the session using the 3DGaia software. However, this is optional, and participants will also benefit from the session by following on Zoom. check system and hardware requirements here


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Speaker Biography - Richard Jones

Richard Jones has over 30 years of commercial geoscience experience, including several hundred days of geological fieldwork spanning five continents and including many areas of petroleum exploration worldwide. Commercial expertise includes applied structural analysis, fractured reservoir characterisation, and application of geospatial technologies in onshore and offshore sectors, particularly GIS, lidar laser-scanning, 3D visualisation and virtual fieldtrip technology. Following a PhD in structural geology & tectonics, current research includes modelling of fracture systems, fault and fold geometries and processes, and structural analysis in areas involving complex three-dimensional deformation. He is co-founder and Managing Director of Geospatial Research Ltd. since 2004.

Speaker Biography - Susie Daniels

Susan Daniels obtained her Ph.D. on strike-slip processes and responses at convergent margins from Liverpool University in 1998. She subsequently joined ExxonMobil as an exploration and production geoscientist. Susie has been a senior geologist at Geospatial Research Ltd. since 2007, where her current interests involve characterization of natural fracture parameters, regional tectonic syntheses, and geological aspects of carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

Speaker Biography - John Howell

John Howell is a Professor of Virtual Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen. His main research focus is on the application of analogue data, especially outcrops, to understanding subsurface systems. He was one of the pioneers of the virtual outcrop method and has been collecting and building 3D virtual outcrop models since 2004. He leads a number of Industry funded consortia including SAFARI which is a unique database analogue database with over 400 virtual outcrops. He has supervised over 50 PhD students, published more than a 150 papers and edited 7 books. He also has numerous TV and media appearances and is passionate about science outreach.

Originally from Wales, he has a degree from the University of Cardiff, followed by a PhD on the Rotliegend from the University of Birmingham. He then spent 10 years in the University of Liverpool as a researcher and junior faculty member working with the StratGroup, studying outcrops across the World. He moved to Norway in 2002 and lived in Bergen until 2012. During that time he worked in the Department of Earth Sciences and UniCIPR where he founded the Virtual Outcrop Geology Group. He was also one of the founders of Rocksource ASA an independent Norwegian E&P Company, where he worked in senior management for 6 years. He returned to the UK in 2012 and took his current position at the University of Aberdeen. He lives on the Devonian, on a small farm and keeps rare breed sheep.

Speaker Biography - Gary Nichols

Gary Nichols is responsible for the strategy and technical development of energy training for RPS Energy.

Before joining RPS Gary taught at Royal Holloway University of London and the University Centre on Svalbard covering undergraduate and MSc courses in Sedimentology, Sequence Stratigraphy, Petroleum Geology and Sedimentary Basins.

His main research interests are in clastic sedimentology and sedimentary basin analysis with a focus on fluvial and coastal patterns of sedimentation. He has carried out field studies in flexural basins in Spain, Greece, USA and Spitsbergen, in extensional basins in Madagascar, Greece, northern Thailand, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and in arc-related settings in Antarctica, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

In addition to journal papers, Gary is author of a textbook ‘Sedimentology and Stratigraphy’. He was formerly President of the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM).

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