Bruce Levell

Bruce Levell

Visiting Professor
Tel: 01865 272000

My research interest is in sedimentary basins. Working with reflection seismic data in basins around the world has given me an appreciation of the extent the sedimentary record can be understood as a consequence of large scale basin evolution. I’m particularly interested on how the preserved portions of the geological record represent the full sequence of geological events. The sedimentary record is neither a continuous and compete archive of events that can be read as a time series, nor so riddled with gaps that it is uninterpretable. Which raises the question as to how its biases can be understood and predicted


  • A major bias is provided by variations in preservation potential of  events and  depositional environments. A spectacular example of preservation potential control is provided by thick, monotonous, Precambrian sandstone successions. Thsese are almost characteristic of the Tonian and Ediacaran. These sandstones are homogeneous both in lithology, they contain only extremely thin mudstone partings and facies. It is generally agreed that non-vegetated landscapes encouraged the formation of sand-rich systems by decreasing the relative importance of chemical weathering in soils. However, how did Precambrian depositional processes achieve a record comprised of such an extremely fractionated sand /mud system? The Jura Quartzite in the Neoproterozoic Dalradian Supergroup of Scotland is being studied to understand the sediment dynamics. The key to the puzzle is differential preservation potential, with sediment bypass systems characterised by high energy over large areas (Aeolian, fluvial sheet flood and tidal estuaries) leaving a very biased depositional record, consisting exclusively of the deepest erosional sub-environments.
  • This study has lead naturally to using the preserved sedimentary record of successions in mountain belts to understand their evolution as basins.
  • Descriptions and models of sedimentary environment do consider preservation potential but quantitative information on the type and frequency of events that get preserved and why eg storms, channel switches, earthquakes, is very sparse .
  • The way in which fluids flow out of sedimentary basins is sometimes expressed on seismic data as geometries or as changes in physical properties of the sediments that are detectable geophysically. Seismic information indirectly may reveal the “deep plumbing” of sedimentary basins and the positions of reservoirs and aquifers. How to recognise  and interpret these  clues on seismic data is not fully understood and hence they are not widely used predictively. They could be.

Levell, B.K., Argent, J., Dore, A.G. and Fraser,S. 2010 Passive Margins; overview. Proceedings of the 7th International Petroleum Geological Conference, London Series 7, 823-835, Geol.Soc.Publ.


Levell, B.K., Richard,P, Hoogendijk, F 2002 A possible Albian impact crater at Murshid Oman
GeoArabia, 7, 721-730


Reading H.G. and B.K. Levell. 1997 and subsequent editions, Chapter 3 Controls on the sedimentary rock record In Reading,H.G.(ed) Sedimentary Environments and Facies. Blackwell Sci, Publ


Veldkamp,J.J, M.G.Gaillard, H.A Jonkers and B.K.Levell 1997. A Kimmeridgian time slice through the Humber Group of the central North Sea: a test of sequence stratigraphic methods. In Hurst, A et al., (eds) Geology of the Humber Group : Central Graben and Moray Firth. Geol. Soc. Lon. Spec. Pub. 114,1-28


Johnson,H.D. and B.K.Levell, 1995, Sedimentology of a transgressive, estuarine sand complex: the Lower Cretaceous Woburn Sands (Lower Greensand) southern England. In Int.Ass.Sedimentol. Spec.Publ. 22, 17-46


Levell,B.K., Leu, W 1993, Stratigraphic basin modelling-recent advances. In Basin modelling: Advances and Applications, NPF Special Publ. 3, 71- 83, Elsevier Amsterdam


Levell, B.K., J.H.Braakman and K.W.Rutten, 1989, Oil-bearing sediments of the Gondwana glaciation in Oman. Am.Ass.Petrol.Geol.Bull. 83


Levell, B.K. 1987, The Nature and significance of regional unconformities in the hydrocarbon-bearing Neogene sequence offshore West Sabah.             Geol Soc. Malaysia Bulletin. 20


Levell,B.K. and A. Kasumajaya 1985, Slumping at the late Miocene shelf edge offshore West Sabah: a view of a turbidite basin margin. Geol. Soc. Malaysia Bulletin 18, 1-29.


Braakman,J.H., B.K.Levell,J.H.Martin, T.L.Potter and A van Vliet 1982, Late Palaeozoic Gondwana glaciation in Oman. Nature, 299, 48-50.


Levell.B.K. 1980 A Late Precambrian tidal shelf deposit the Lower Sandfjord Formation, Finnmark North Norway. Sedimentology, 27 539-557


Levell,B.K. 1980 Evidence for currents associated with waves in Late Precambrian shelf deposits from Finnmark, North Norway. Sedimentology 27 153-166.


Johnson,H.D., B.K.Levell and S.Siedlecki (1978) Late Precambrian sedimentary rocks in East Finnmark and their relationship to the Trollfjord-Komagelv Fault. J.Geol. Soc. 135.5 517-533