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The mound factory - internal controls


Problems to be solved (while also addressing the relevant EU policies)
The discovery of maybe one of the world's most prolific carbonate mound provinces along Europe's margins, right within the present deep water areas of interest for hydrocarbon exploration, urges for investigating the eluding potential of giant biogenic sedimentary structures as hydrocarbon indicators. Considering the close association between mounds and various surface expressions of fluid expulsion, "mound events" may hold clues towards fluid migration phases and hence prospectivity of basins (Sustainable Marine Ecosystems, Key Action 3.1.2). The apparent association between various mound clusters and past events of slope failures suggests that mounds may also hold a clue towards continental slope stability (Sustainable Marine Ecosystems, Key Action 3.1.2). In addition, the high-resolution investigations proposed will also help to unveil and document the unique deep-water ecosystems often associated with such mounds. This will contribute to Europe's efforts to develop its natural resources with due consideration for the preservation of unique deep-water habitats (Habitats Directive). Scientific objectives and approach The GEOMOUND strategy will involve the construction of a high-resolution Spatial Information Grid, straddling two major hydrocarbon basins presently explored: Porcupine Basin and south-eastern Rockall Basin, off western Ireland. The grid, based on a systematic inventory of recorded giant mound occurrences, will link "pilot mound provinces" with deep reference exploration wells and stratigraphic wells. A nominal number of 5 - 6 cruises will provide detailed geophysical (seismic, multibeam), geochemical and sedimentological data on these critical "nodes", to be linked by correlation lines. High-resolution data merged with industrial 2D/3D data over common investigation depths in the "Connemara" oil field area will provide an integrated data set that can highlight the most subtle fluid migration paths. Critical targets will be selected for the collection of long cores. Geochemical expertise from various cultures will team up for stalking clues of fluid migration in both on- and off-mound sediment cores. Observations will be introduced into a numerical modelling package for testing - in space and time - various schemes of fluid migration from the reservoirs to the surficial sedimentary sequences.
Expected impacts
GEOMOUND dovetails well with the present industrial momentum along Europe's margins. The fluid migration model which should result from this study will be a timely product, possibly shedding a new light on the dynamics of fluid migration in Europe's offshore basins, which has a bearing on both hydrocarbon prospectivity and slope stability. The GEOMOUND investigations will pave the way for possible later scientific drilling actions (industrial vessel or ODP programme). The multidisciplinary association of GEOMOUND and its partner project ECOMOUND will foster a better understanding of the dynamics of the prolific deep water ecosystems associated with those mounds, and of their internal ("GEO"MOUND) and external ("ECO"MOUND) controls. Understanding deep-water ecosystems and their genesis is the key towards their preservation. The partnership with a consortium of 18 oil companies will shape opportunities for training and educational spin-off, in a domain at the crossroads of Earth Sciences, Life and Energy: a domain which fascinates young Europeans.

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EU contribution
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Participants (6)