Paleogene drainage system evolution in the NE Faroe-Shetland Basin

Faye Walker* (Corresponding Author), Nick Schofield, John Millett, David Jolley, Sverre Planke, Simon Holford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Incised drainage systems can provide a record of the timing, duration and magnitude of ancient vertical crustal motions. The NE Atlantic underwent rapid uplift 56 Ma, resulting in widespread incision and the formation of Paleogene unconformities across the Faroe-Shetland Basin. This study uses 3D seismic data to map a newly-identified incised drainage system in the northern Faroe-Shetland Basin that formed during this uplift, and compare it to similar incision surfaces in the region. The 30x50 km erosional surface is a composite feature, comprising the Upper Thanetian Unconformity, which was rejuvenated and eroded by the younger Flett Unconformity, and records prolonged regional uplift during the late Thanetian-earliest Ypresian punctuated by a phase of subsidence. The drainage system was influenced by igneous intrusions resulting in diversion of channels around forced fold structures. Several preserved paleoshorelines occur close to the basinward limit of the incision surface, recording progressive backstepping of the shoreline and marine transgression during early Ypresian subsidence. The drainage system may have supplied ‘clean’ sand, eroded from the North Shetland Platform, to the Flett Sub-basin, with the potential to form high-quality reservoir units. Such sands may have been concentrated along shorelines coeval with the drainage system, but potentially were also delivered further out into the basin.Scientific editing by Dhananjai Pandey
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjgs2021-121
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number5
Early online date6 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding from the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) (Oil and Gas Centre for Doctoral training) and the British Geological Survey for Faye Walker‟s PhD is gratefully acknowledged. SP is partly supported by the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence funding scheme (project 223272 CEED). TGS ( is thanked for providing access to the Northern Lights seismic data. Seismic interpretation was undertaken using Schlumberger Petrel software and IHS Kingdom Suite. Spectral Decompostion was undertaken using FFA Geoteric Software.


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