Oxford Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Researcher receives Robert Mitchum Award

Oxford Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Researcher receives Robert Mitchum Award

Congratulations to Chris Kirkham on being awarded the Robert Mitchum Award for the best paper published in Basin Research for the year 2018. The award was presented at the opening session of the 2019 EAGE Annual 81st conference and exhibition in London.

Chris is a Postdoctoral Researcher within the Geoscience lab at the Department of Earth Sciences in Oxford. The paper Chris won the award for is titled ‘The genesis of mud volcano conduits through thick evaporite sequences´, published in Basin Research, Vol 30, No 2, April 2018.

The judges that selected this paper had the following to say about it:

This novel study used high-resolution 3D seismic response and subsurface geometries for apparent mud volcano conduits (MVCs) in offshore Egypt to substantiate the potential for migration of fluids through thick sequences of otherwise impermeable evaporites. Interpretation of MVCs is complex because of imaging artefacts and abrupt lateral velocity changes. The traditional explanation for migration of sub-salt fluids into the post-salt section requires “windows” in the salt layer caused by salt mobility. The authors carefully screened seismic data for 386 mud volcanoes in the study area to define 93 cases of data acceptable for interpretation. The data show that MVCs can be reliably identified and are likely rooted within the Pre-Salt sequence. The authors propose a detailed model for MVC formation, which includes rapid loading during evaporite deposition, undercompaction, and significant overpressure development in the Pre-Salt. The results (1) demonstrate the potential for petroleum and other fluids to penetrate >1-km-thick sealing evaporites, (2) are broadly applicable to many other salt basins worldwide, and (3) have far-reaching implications for petroleum exploration, sequestration of carbon dioxide, and disposal of nuclear waste.

“I’m honored and delighted to have received this award, not just for myself but my co-authors Joe Cartwright, Christian Hermanrud and Christopher Jebsen whom were instrumental in the development of this research. I am very grateful to the judges for selecting this paper, further confirming the importance of the work we do in the Geoscience Laboratory and Earth Science Department here in Oxford.”

Mud volcano conduits (MVC) through salt – see paper (link below) for full caption.

You can find the full journal article by following the link https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bre.12250