Triassic mudstones of the Central North Sea: cross-border characterization, correlation and their palaeoclimatic significance

Stuart G Archer, Tom McKie, Steven Andrews, Anne D Wilkins, Matt Hutchison, Nathan Young-Ziolkowski, Christabel Osunde, Joanna Matheson, Scott Thackery, Marcus Lang, Bente Sola, Christoffer Mouritzen, Chris Perrell, Mark Greenwood, Emil Mouritzen, Srinivas Tenepalli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The Triassic of the Central North Sea is a continental succession that contains prolific hydrocarbon bearing fluvial sandstone reservoirs, stratigraphically partitioned by mudstones. Within the Skagerrak Formation of the UK sector, hydrocarbon accumulations in the Judy, Joanne and Josephine Sandstone members are top sealed by the Julius, Jonathan and Joshua Mudstone members respectively. However, UK and Norwegian stratigraphic correlations have been problematical for decades, largely due to biostratigraphic challenges but also due to the non-uniqueness of the lithotypes and because the cross-border stratigraphic nomenclature differs and has yet to be rationalised. This study focuses on mudstones rather than sandstones to unify cross-border correlation efforts at a regional scale. The mudstone members have been characterised by integrating sedimentological, petrophysical and geophysical data. The facies are indicative of playa lakes that frequently desiccated and preserved minor anhydrite. These conditions alternated with periods of marshy, palustrine conditions favourable for the formation of dolostones. Regional correlations have detected lateral facies changes in the mudstones which are important for their seismically mappable extents, resulting palaeogeographies and ultimately their competency as intra-formational top seals. Significant diachroneity is associated with the lithological transitions at sandstone/mudstone member boundaries and although lithostratigraphic surfaces can be used as timelines over short distances (e.g. within a field), they should not be assumed to represent timelines over longer correlation lengths. Palaeoclimatic trends are interpreted and compared to those of adjacent regions to test the extent and impact of climate change as a predictive allogenic forcing factor on sedimentation. Mudstone member deposition occurred as a result of the retreat of large-scale terminal fluvial systems during a return to more arid ‘background’ climatic conditions. The cause of the member scale climatic cyclicity observed within the Skagerrak Formation may be related to volcanic activity in large igneous provinces which triggered the episodic progradation of fluvial systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCross-Border Themes in Petroleum Geology I: The North Sea
Subtitle of host publicationGeological Society, London, Special Publications
EditorsS Patruno, S G Archer, D Chiarella, J A Howell, C A L Jackson, H Kombrink
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Triassic mudstones of the Central North Sea: cross-border characterization, correlation and their palaeoclimatic significance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this