Trias North – Reconstructing the Triassic northern Barents shelf
The sedimentary rocks in the Barents Sea from the Triassic Period (250-200 mil years ago) may contain petroleum reservoirs, but our knowledge of the geological history of this area is limited. Along the Norwegian coastline some areas have been explored, while others have not. Trias North is a knowledge-building project aiming to investigate the geological development of rocks in and around the Barents Sea.
The Barents Sea is a part of the Arctic Ocean in the Hight North. Illustration photo: Colourbox.no, NASA
About the project
The geological history of the rocks in the Barents Sea remains enigmatic in several aspects. While increased knowledge has been gained in some areas along the Norwegian coastline, which have been investigated in connection with oil exploration, other areas are closed to exploration and remain poorly understood.
Trias North is a knowledge-building project aiming at gaining deeper insight into important geological questions like: How did sediments end up here? What controlled where they were deposited and which processes affected them after deposition? At what rates did the sediments accumulate and where did they come from? What environments developed, and where are the old sandy beaches?
A geological map of the Barents Sea. Purple color indicates sandstones from the Triassic time-period, while blue areas are younger (Jurassic-Cretaceous). See larger version of this map. Figure: Anell et al., 2014.
The reservoir properties of sandstones from the Triassic are well known further west around Longyearbyen, where studies of CO2 capture and storage have been carried out. However, a thorough study and description of the sandstone layers on land east o, for example, Edgeøya is needed to get a fuller understanding of the geology of the area.
Our project aims to analyze the sedimentological, stratigraphical and structural setting of the region and perform detailed studies of the sedimentary systems to establish better temporal links between source areas, sediment routing, sedimentary sinks, and what happened with the sediments after deposition. We also want to undertake tectonic analysis to better understand large-scale driving forces of sag/warp basins and highs versus fault system development. Increased knowledge about the geological history of the area is not only of academic interest but also important in evaluating possible oil and gas exploration in the northern and eastern areas of the region.
Trias North will explore the Triassic basin development and sedimentary infill of the northern Barents Shelf by integrating geological studies onshore Svalbard with offshore seismic data analysis and numerical and analogue modelling. The scientific objectives are to:
- Analyze shallow-shelf infill by clinoform migration across regional sag/warp-type basins;
- Investigate the fluvial and shallow marine depositional systems of the migrating shelf;
- Evaluate the role of growth faulting in the distribution of reservoir sandstones, and assess the implications for prospectivity;
- Analyze the provenance of clastic material of the reservoir sandstones by isotopes and chemical signatures, and their burial histories linked to diagenesis;
- Investigate impacts on the sedimentary system of the interaction between shelf progradation, basin and high development, and faulting;
- Explore tectonic reactivation of deep-seated zones of weakness and correlate this to far-field stress configurations.
A general objective for the project is knowledge-transferring and competence building. This is achieved by recruiting PhD students and postdoctoral fellows (comprising the equivalent of 20 research years). Junior scientists will represent a fundamental part of the research team.
The research team
The Trias North - Reconstructing the Triassic northern Barents shelf project includes researchers from a variety of universities and research institutes in Norway and abroad.
The University of Oslo (UiO) is hosting the project, which is led by professor Alvar Braathen at the Department of Geosciences. Other scientists on the UiO team are Ingrid Anell, Roy Gabrielsen, Jan Inge Faleide, Ivar Midtkandal, Helge Hellevang, Johan Petter Nystuen, Per Aagaard and Knut Bjørlykke.
Other research partners are:
- University of Bergen (William Helland-Hansen, Tore Grane Klausen, Christian Haug Eide)
- University Centre in Svalbard (Snorre Olaussen, Aleksandra Smyrak-Sikora, Mark Mulrooney)
- Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Atle Mørk)
- NORSAR (Isabelle Lacomte)
- Uni Research (Simon Buckley)
- University of Utrecht (Dimitrios Sokoutis, Ernst Willingshofer)
- University of Parma (Fabrizio Storti, Kei Ogata, Fabrizio Balsamo, Cristian Cavozzi)
- Polish Academy of Science (Krzysztof Krajewski, Urszula Czarniecka)
- University of Nebraska (Harmon Maher)
- Geological Survey of Canada (Asthon Embry)
The Trias North project started up in 2014 and will end 2018. The project is financed by the Research Council of Norway and the following industrial partners: