Structural and Stratigraphic Evolution of the Mid North Sea High Region of the UK Continental Shelf

Rachel E. Brackenridge, John R. Underhill* (Corresponding Author), Rachel Jamieson, Andrew Bell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Interpretation of newly-acquired seismic and legacy well data has led to a greater understanding of the Upper Palaeozoic-Recent geological evolution of the Mid North Sea High (MNSH), an underexplored region of the Central North Sea. The position of granite-cored blocks controlled the distribution of Devono-Carboniferous highs and basins before Variscan uplift led to peneplanation and the creation of the Base Permian Unconformity. The MNSH became the dominant feature during the Permian when it formed a W-E striking ridge between the Southern and Northern Permian Basins. Following a period of non-deposition, sedimentation was renewed in the Late Permian to Triassic before Middle Jurassic doming caused uplift to the north-east. Subsequent Late Jurassic North Sea rifting transected the MNSH to create the Western Platform between the Central Graben and Moray Firth rift arms. Following Cretaceous post-rift deposition, the area experienced a significant easterly tilt in the Cenozoic that led to the demise of the MNSH as a prominent topographic feature. The tectonic and stratigraphic evolution exerts a strong control over reservoir facies distribution, source rock deposition and maturation. However, the area is not barren of petroleum potential. Despite the lack of Upper Carboniferous source rocks over large areas, hydrocarbon potential is evident through shows in legacy wells, indicating the Lower Carboniferous as a potential source rock. Cenozoic uplift to the west imparted a regional tilt, the effects of which remains key to unlocking the area's prospectivity since it reconfigured structures and formed remigration pathways from Lower Carboniferous and Jurassic source rocks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-173
Number of pages20
JournalPetroleum Geoscience
Issue number2
Early online date17 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

This research was undertaken as part of a 2-year Post-Doctoral Research Associate (PDRA) project undertaken at the Applied Geoscience Unit in the Centre of Exploration Geoscience at Heriot Watt University. The project was funded by the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) as part of their Frontier Basins Research program. We extend our gratitude Jo Bagguley, Malcolm Gall and Nick Richardson for their support of the work and technical discussions. All research outputs are available for download on the Oil and Gas Authority’s National Data Repository (NDR) website, and we thank the OGA’s data management and Arc GIS team for their work to make this publicly available. The work has benefitted from technical discussion with Matthew Booth, Ross Grant and Richard McKeen, who have undertaken complementary studies in neighbouring parts of the basin.


Dive into the research topics of 'Structural and Stratigraphic Evolution of the Mid North Sea High Region of the UK Continental Shelf'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this