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Sediment flux, depositional processes and architecture of a fault-bounded, base-of-slope submarine fan: Corinth Rift, Greece


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Friday 19 June 2020
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Source of funding
External organisation
Dr Richard Collier and Professor David Hodgson
Additional supervisors
Professor Robert Gawthorpe, University of Bergen
School of Earth and Environment
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Project highlights: Novel acquisition of high resolution geophysics, multi-beam bathymetry, side-scan sonar and seabed sampling data on a footwall-derived, base-of-slope submarine fan in a seismically-active rift basin; linked to new IODP borehole stratigraphic data; working as part of a wider international, collaborative project; key outputs will be high impact papers on high resolution depositional architectures and sediment flux across a rift margin.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p><strong>The problem:</strong> In rift basins, clastic submarine fans and aprons deposited adjacent to the active basin-bounding fault offer a physical record of the sedimentary and stratigraphic response to syn-depositional fault activity and to palaeoenvironmental changes. The starting hypothesis of this project is that rift structure controls deep-water sediment location, routing and the arrangement of depositional elements along sediment transport pathways, whilst environmental factors largely determine sediment transport process and stratigraphic cyclicity.</p> <p>Previous outcrop studies that detail sedimentary facies and architectures have targeted the bedload-dominated systems of footwall-derived fan delta systems and associated axial turbidite sand fairways (e.g. Henstra et al, 2016; Barrett et al, 2019; Cullen et al, 2019). Studies of Late Quaternary systems that use seismic-reflection profiles combined with shallow drill cores have been focused on lakes in the East African Rift System (e.g. Lyons et al, 2011).</p> <p>What has been lacking is a study locale in an active rift with a base-of-slope fan rich in suspension load, with the opportunity to collect a combination of seabed geomorphological and sample data, and high resolution (multi-channel) seismic-reflection data, in an area with deep drill cores. These integrated data provide a high resolution age model and constraint of depositional conditions throughout the imaged stratigraphy, and enable quantification of the response of sediment transport process, sediment volumes, facies, and depositional architectures to external environmental and tectonic variables.</p> <p><strong>Project aims:</strong> The Research Council of Norway-sponsored DeepRift Project will carry out a multi-disciplinary survey of footwall-derived and axial turbidite fan systems within the Late Quaternary Corinth Rift. Within this wider project, the Sithas Fan, a base-of-slope, deep-water, submarine fan will be the target of this PhD study. The aim is to understand the location, geometry and sedimentology of this syn-rift deep-water depositional system from structural and source-to-sink perspectives.</p> <p><strong>Objectives:</strong> 1) To image and map submarine fault-scarp canyons, channels, lobes and the range of gravity flow deposits of the present day Sithas base-of-slope fan. 2) To resolve the stratigraphic architecture and sedimentology of the Sithas fan over the last 250 kyr (two major climate cycles). 3) To investigate how depositional architectures reflect local fault geometries and normal fault displacements. 4) To evaluate the impact of climate, sea- and lake-level variations and hinterland vegetational changes on deep-water deposition, utilising high resolution chronological and multiproxy environmental studies from IODP 381 cores. 5) To quantify the relative contribution of rift-margin fault processes and palaeoenvironmental changes in determining sediment flux onto (and beyond) the deep-water fan on 10<span class="superscript_text">3</span>-10<span class="superscript_text">5</span> yr timescales.</p> <p><strong>Methods:</strong> This project will focus on the base-of-slope fan fed by the River Sithas in the eastern Gulf of Corinth. Shipboard seismic and bathymetry data acquisition is planned for spring 2020.&nbsp; Seismic profiles will be acquired parallel and perpendicular to rift faults and fan channels and lobes, with a line spacing of 0.5-1 km, and tied into IODP 381 Sites M0078 and M0079. In addition, ultra-high resolution bathymetry and synthetic aperture side scan sonar data will be collected using an AUV, and sediment characteristics will be calibrated by shallow drop cores.</p> <p>Seismic facies, stratigraphic, structural and geomorphic interpretation will use a combination of Schlumberger&rsquo;s Petrel and ArcGIS software. Horizon interpretations from existing surveys (Nixon et al, 2016) will be continued onto the new seismic profiles providing a better than 100 kyr framework, with key seismic surfaces denoting changes in seismic facies and reflection geometries. Core-based studies will be linked to the seismic data based on velocity and density constraints from IODP 381 drill holes. Seismic facies mapping will lead to the creation of deep-water depositional element maps and palaeogeographic reconstructions.</p> <p>Recent studies of the Corinth rift catchments provide erosion rates and sediment supply to the rift over the last 130 kyr (Watkins et al, 2019: Pechlivanidou et al, 2019). Accurate depth conversion of seismic stratigraphic units, and core-based porosity-depth relationships, both made possible by the IODP data, will allow derivation of time-series of sediment volumes and sedimentation rates. These sedimentation rates will be compared to erosion rate estimates from catchments around the rift to understand temporal and spatial variations in sediment transfer to the deep-water environment. Correlation with regional climatic events highlighted in pollen records and with sea-level changes (via our high resolution chronology) will allow analysis of climate influence on sediment accumulation and the separation of environmental and tectonic controls upon sediment flux.</p> <p><strong>Training:</strong> This studentship will give exposure to an international collaborative research project, contributing to a programme of interlinked Quaternary rift basin studies and subsurface studies of Mesozoic Norwegian rift basins. You will be part of a team of PhD students and post-doctorate researchers based at the Universities of Leeds and Bergen. You will be encouraged to submit manuscripts for publication in international scientific journals and to contribute your results to research partner meetings and to UK and international conferences. You will be joining a world-renowned research group working on sedimentary environments, processes, and rift structure and basin evolution. You will have an interest in gaining a variety of research skills and exploring tectono-sedimentary interactions, using interdisciplinary approaches. At the University of Leeds, you will have access to excellent facilities, a team of supervisors with expertise across the relevant disciplines and a set of international student peers in a lively social and research environment.</p> <p><strong>References:</strong></p> <p>Barrett, B. <em>et al</em>. (2019) Quantifying faulting and base level controls on syn-rift sedimentation using stratigraphic architectures of coeval, adjacent Early-Middle Pleistocene fan deltas in Lake Corinth, Greece. <em>Basin Research, </em>31(6), 1040-1065, <a href=""></a></p> <p>Cullen, T.M. <em>et al</em>. (2019) Axial and transverse deep-water sediment supply to syn-rift fault terraces: insights from the West Xylokastro Fault Block, Gulf of Corinth, Greece. <em>Basin Research</em>, 00:1-35 (published online 14 October 2019),</p> <p>Henstra, G. A. <em>et al. </em>(2016) Depositional processes and stratigraphic architecture within a coarse grained rift-margin turbidite system: The Wollaston Forland Group, east Greenland. <em>Marine and Petroleum Geology </em>76, 187-209, doi:10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2016.05.018</p> <p>Lyons, R.P. <em>et al</em>. (2011) Late Quaternary stratigraphic analysis of the Lake Malawi Rift, East Africa: An</p> <p>integration of drill-core and seismic-reflection data. <em>Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology</em> 303 (2011) 20&ndash;37, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.04.014</p> <p>Nixon, C. <em>et al.</em> (2016) Rapid spatiotemporal variations in rift structure during development of the Corinth Rift, central Greece. <em>Tectonics </em>35, 1225-1248, doi:10.1002/2015tc004026</p> <p>Pechlivanidou, S. <em>et al. </em>(2019) Tipping the balance: Shifts in sediment production in an active rift setting. <em>Geology </em>47, 259-262, doi:10.1130/g45589.1</p> <p>Watkins, S. E. <em>et al. </em>(2019) Are landscapes buffered to high-frequency climate change? A comparison of sediment fluxes and depositional volumes in the Corinth Rift, central Greece, over the past 130 k.y. <em>Geological Society of America Bulletin </em>131, 372-388, doi:10.1130/b31953.1 (2019)</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <strong>Sediment flux, depositional processes and architecture of a fault-bounded, base-of-slope submarine fan: Corinth Rift, Greece</strong> as well as <a href="">Dr Richard Collier</a> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

For those whose first language is not English, the minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>This 3 years funded PhD will cover tuition fees (&pound;4,600 for 2020/21), tax-free stipend (&pound;15,285 for 2020/21), and a research training and support grant.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about the research project contact&nbsp;<a href="" style="color: rgb(7, 130, 193); font-family: sans-serif,Arial,Verdana,&amp;quot;trebuchet ms&amp;quot;; font-size: 13px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-decoration: underline; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px;">Dr Richard Collier</a>.&nbsp; For informnation about the application process, please contact;</p>