© ICDP, the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, 1996-2021

www.icdp-online.org

The North Sea Basin As a Recorder for Key Cenozoic Transitions: Climate Development, Fluvial Response and Ecosystem Change in a Subsiding Basin

Europe, Netherlands, North Sea

revised workshop-proposal: ICDP-2014/09
for the funding-period starting 2014-01-15
by Timme H. Donders, Stefan M. Luthi, Martin James Head, Gert Jan Weltje, Ronald T. van Balen, Martin Melles, Philip Leonard Gibbard, C.P.A. (Kees) Wapenaar, Guy Gérard Drijkoningen, Maarten G. Kleinhans, Manfred Anton Frechen, Michael Anthony Lovell, Jörg Pross, Sierd A.P.L. Cloetingh, Wolfram Michael Kürschner, Appy Sluijs, Torsten Utescher
Abstract
The Cenozoic record of terrestrial environmental change is key to understanding current global climate processes and to improve data-model comparisons. High latitudes are important as they experienced the greatest past environmental change. In NW Europe, increasing isolation from the mid-latitudes by Alpine uplift and closing of interior seaways created a climatological and biological divide that eventually caused widespread regional extinctions and development of glacial landforms in the Quaternary, while strengthening of the North Atlantic Current (NAC) caused divergent developments on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Accurate, independent age control is a prerequisite for interpreting climate records, constraining regional sediment budgets, correlating marine and terrestrial archives, and studying the effect of geographic isolation on biota. In particular, long records capable of recording the catchment-scale changes in river sedimentation as a response to climate and orogeny are a much-needed constraint on sedimentation and carbon burial rates. In the North Sea Basin (NSB), a robust integrated chronostratigraphical and climatological framework is lacking, since in commercial drilling the Cenozoic is generally not targeted. Available evidence shows near-continuous marine sedimentation with abundant terrestrial geochemical tracers and microfossils in the onshore. A continuously cored section from the NSB would unlock the full potential of this area for reconstructing Cenozoic climate and biotic changes, and targets sediments from the surrounding landmasses deposited by rivers draining the Baltic (Eridanos) and the Ardennes and Alps (Rhine-Meuse fluvial systems). We aim to drill two sites that collectively span the majority of the Cenozoic in a marginal marine geological setting of the onshore part of the NSB to address the research questions, one in the SE extension of the NSB (Roer Valley Graben, RVG) focusing on the Neogene and Quaternary record (target ~1300m), and one in the northern Netherlands aiming at Paleogene sequences (target ~900m). The sites allow direct geophysical monitoring of natural and human-induced subsidence and seismicity, which is an added benefit of important societal relevance. Operational conditions and accessibility in the Netherlands are excellent, and there is ample opportunity for integrating fundamental and applied geoscientific goals. Both sites will be logged, dated palaeomagnetically and a range of biological, physical and geochemical proxies will be employed to calibrate stratigraphy, produce records of terrestrial and regional palaeoclimate, and regional vegetation. Core scans (imaging, XRF, near-infrared) and measurements of sedimentological properties (lithofacies, grain size, mineralogy) aim to deduce fluvial regimes, sediment provenance, and changes in climate conditions in river basins.
Scientific Objectives
  • The shallow marine domain has the potential to integrate several key signals relevant for climate and biotic evolution at high temporal resolution in a single record. Particularly in a subsiding basin, the high vertical resolution and decreased risk of hiatuses largely circumvent typical problems of shallow marine records. Two major research questions are identified that benefit from a well-dated, continuously cored record in the present onshore part of the North Sea Basin (NSB).
  • 1) What is the long-term interaction between sediment accumulation and climate change: Investigate source-sink interrelationships, carbon burial and river development in relation to changing Cenozoic climate gradients and alpine tectonics.
  • 2) How does geographic isolation impact ecosystem divergence; Cenozoic extinctions rates, speciation and migration patterns, and respective impacts on geological timescale calibration in NW Europe. Additionally, the proposed drill sites offer the unique opportunity for permanent down hole monitoring of passive, human- and naturally-induced seismicity. Due to decades of hydrocarbon production in the NSB, a new geohazard developed of which the exact risk and rates are poorly constrained. With respect to seismicity two main challenges are discerned in the NSB that are relevant to many tectonically active areas:
  • Natural, pre-existing stress conditions (magnitudes, orientations) on faults activated by hydrocarbon production and the upper magnitude of thus induced earthquakes Recurrence intervals and largest magnitude of earthquakes in the Roer Valley Rift System (SE extension of NSB).
Keywords
Cenozoic, CONOSC, Europe, High-resolution stratigraphy, ICDP-2014/09, Netherlands, North sea, Paleoclimate
Location
Europe, Netherlands, North Sea: 53.40000, 5.31667

© ICDP, the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, 1996-2021

www.icdp-online.org