--> --> Peter Ziegler's North Sea Legacy – How Has His Geological Insight and Understanding Stood the Test of Technological Advance, Interpretation and Forensic Analysis?

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Peter Ziegler's North Sea Legacy – How Has His Geological Insight and Understanding Stood the Test of Technological Advance, Interpretation and Forensic Analysis?

Abstract

Peter Ziegler made an immeasurable contribution to the understanding of the geological evolution of Europe and its North Atlantic borderlands. He is best known for producing a superb set of maps, the geological deductions made from which advanced the fundamental understanding of the plate tectonic controls on the evolution and hydrocarbon potential of sedimentary basins on passive margins and continental interiors. Over the years, many workers have challenged the tectonic concepts that Ziegler concluded controlled the stratigraphic architecture and facies distribution displayed. Most notably, his concept of Middle Jurassic North Sea Doming driven by coeval magmatism was a long-standing source of controversy since it appeared to pre-date Upper Jurassic trilete rifting, something that contradicted classic rift models. Many contended that the doming episode did not exist, arguing that volcanism had to post-date North Sea stretching and that the erosion of Middle and Lower Jurassic strata in the triple junction area was simply a function of wells being sited on the footwalls of extensional fault blocks. The subsequent test of Ziegler's observations and interpretations, however, demonstrated that not only was the doming episode real, it pre-dated rifting and resulted from transient asthenospheric upwelling caused by a warm mantle plume much as Ziegler had originally postulated. Whilst the driving force behind the structural inversion that affected a suite of Mesozoic Basins scattered across NW Europe also remained elusive and contentious, Ziegler was able to demonstrate the basins suffered discrete phases of uplift throughout the Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic. It is now evident that a combination of Alpine and Atlantic plate margin forces and the development of the proto-Iceland hotspot all contribute to the stratigraphic record. New insights through the use of new seismic technologies, deeper and/or more geographically widespread drilling or the application of new geological methods (like sequence stratigraphy) have all undoubtedly added value to Ziegler's original, pioneering work. However, what remains clear is just how robust his maps and their tectonic interpretations remain. His work is thus a lasting testimony to the value of forensic regional studies without which no producing asset or exploration play can be fully understood.