Professor Ian Alsop

Ian Alsop

Chair in Structural Geology
Head of Geology and Petroleum Geology
Deputy Head of Geosciences

Before joining the Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology in 2009, I was based at the University of St. Andrews, and had previously held research positions at the universities of London, Durham and ETH, Zurich. My research led, in 2005, to the award of the Lyell Fund of The Geological Society, and I am also a recognised associate researcher at the University of Barcelona. I currently sit on a number of editorial boards including the Journal of the Geological Society, the Journal of Structural Geology, the Scottish Journal of Geology and Geology Today.

I am internationally recognised for my work on tectonics and structural geology, and in particular the 3-D analysis of complex geometries. My research addresses the ability of rocks and sediments to flow and fracture at a variety of scales and rates, both within the Earth and close to its surface. These issues are studied via the careful recording, interpretation and reading of deformation patterns, including fault, fold and fabric geometries. This research programme has to date involved work in the UK and Ireland, Europe, Asia, Middle East, North America, and the Arctic.

Salt tectonics forms an important strand of my research and has been investigated in the North Sea, Canada, Albania and Yemen. Gravity-driven surficial processes, associated with soft-sediment tectonics, have recently been analysed in the western Ireland and the Dead Sea, while ice-driven sub-glacial tectonics are being studied in Denmark.

I have studied a wide spectrum of deformation regimes including mid-crustal settings, where the geometry and kinematics of large scale tectonics have been investigated in the UK & Ireland, the Alpi Apuane of Italy, Greenland, the Spanish Pyrennean belt and Oman. I have also investigated upper crustal tectonics in Kazakhstan and in addition have undertaken regional structural analysis involving hydrocarbons (most recently in Azerbaijan and Iraq).

I have also undertaken collaborative work with a number of government agencies including the BGS in the NW Highlands, IGS in NW Ireland and the Greenland Survey. I am committed to Earth Science education and co-convened the first ever TecTask sponsored field workshop in structural analysis. In addition, I also serve on the editorial board of Geology Today, which is distributed freely to schools and colleges. The underlying theme of my future research direction is the detailed 3-D analysis of structural geometries developed across a range of scales and environments utilising a variety of tools.

Current Research Themes
SALT TECTONICS

Extreme Boudinage in dead sea salt
Extreme boudinage and rotation of marl layer in Dead Sea salt Photo © Ian Alsop).

This broad research theme includes the analysis of the kinematic and tectonic evolution of structures developed within sediment overburden adjacent to salt diapirs. It has in the past involved several disciplines including physical modelling of salt structures, analysis of seismic sections and core/well data from case studies. Recent fieldwork in 2008 has included studying structures developed in Neogene aged salt in the Dead Sea, and Zechstein salt in European salt mines.

I am also the principal editor of a Geological Society of London Special Publication on "Salt Tectonics" - follow this link for a list of contents and free pdf http://sp.lyellcollection.org/content/vol100/issue1/#ARTICLES

Halite Pressure shadows around marl clasts in Bex salt mine Halite pressure shadows around marl clasts, Bex Salt Mine, Switzerland (Photo © Ian Alsop). Intense folding developed within salt of Bex salt mine Intense folding developed within salt of the Bex Salt Mine,Switzerland (Photo © Ian Alsop).
PhD Students
  • Luis E Salomon Mora "Structure and tectonics associated with salt movement in the North Mexican salt Province." (Starting January 2010, Funded by Pemex)
  • Luis E Huerta-Paez "Stratigraphy and sedimentation associated with salt tectonics and salt withdrawal in the main reservoir rocks of the North Mexican salt province." (Starting January 2010, Funded by Pemex)

Selected Salt Tectonics Publications (please e-mail me for pdfs and reprints)

SOFT-SEDIMENT TECTONICS

Soft sediment folding in the Dead Sea Soft-sediment folding developed in the Dead Sea (Photo © Ian Alsop).

This theme includes the detailed analysis of soft-sediment deformation, with special reference to determining slope directions and comparing sediment geometries with structures generated during deeper level deformation. Recent fieldwork has included analysis of Carboniferous aged slumps exposed in western Ireland, and Pleistocene aged deformation around the Dead Sea. In addition, soft-sediment deformation associated with ice-driven sub-glacial tectonics is being studied in Denmark with a view to developing further models of glacio-tectonism.

azerbaijan mud volcano Minor eruption and deformation during flow of mud, Azerbaijan (Photo © Ian Alsop). Sub-glacial folding and shearing of Quaternary sands, Denmark Sub-glacial folding and shearing of Quaternary sands, Denmark (Photo © Ian Alsop).

Selected Soft-Sediment Tectonics Publications (please e-mail me for pdfs and reprints)

UPPER-CRUSTAL TECTONICS

Fracturing and boudinage of dolomite layer, Oman Miocene carbonates folded on a km-scale in the northern Zagros of Kurdistan, Iraq(Photo © Ian Alsop).

This theme includes detailed analysis of fold and associated fracture patterns from regional scales in areas such as Kazakhstan and the Caspian, to local scales in Azerbaijan. Various projects within the theme have included logging of fracture intensity and spacing, together with analysis of open or closed networks with direct relevance to hydrocarbon systems. I am also the principal editor of a Geological Society of London Special Publication on "Flow Processes in Faults and Shear Zones" - follow this link for a list of contents and free pdf http://sp.lyellcollection.org/content/vol224/issue1/#ARTICLES

steep beds Azerbaijan Steeply dipping Neogene and Quaternary beds with fractures in competent horizons, Azerbaijan (Photo © Ian Alsop). Duncansby Head, Scotland Duncansby Head sea stacks controlled by vertical jointing in Old Red Sandstone, Scotland (Photo © Ian Alsop).

Selected Upper Crustal Tectonics Publications (please e-mail me for pdfs and reprints)

MID-CRUSTAL TECTONICS

Folded quartz vein in schists, Cap de Creus, Spain Folded quartz vein in schists, Cap de Creus, Spain (Photo © Ian Alsop).

This theme includes the structural analysis of progressive deformation and regional patterns of fold evolution, especially the distribution, geometry and kinematic significance of folds generated within major mylonite zones. The use of curvilinear fold and fabric patterns in determining flow patterns and deformation types across a range of settings is also investigated. This topic explores the applicability of strain partitioning models within regional shear zones, and the influences and controls on regional strain localisation.

Highly deformed Carrara Marble, Alpi Apuane, Italy Highly deformed Carrara Marble, Alpi Apuane, Italy (Photo © Ian Alsop). Mylonitised quartz layer deformed into sheath fold Mylonitised quartz layer deformed into sheath fold, Cap de Creus, Spain (Photo © Ian Alsop).

Selected Mid Crustal Tectonics Publications (please e-mail me for pdfs and reprints)

OROGENIC TECTONICS

Alpine orogenic belt viewed from Mont Blanc Alpine orogenic belt viewed from Mont Blanc (Photo © Ian Alsop).

This theme investigates larger-scale orogenic evolution, including examples from ancient and modern mountain belts from around the world. This has involved studies ranging from a major multidisciplinary investigation with the Greenland Survey on the Archaean and Palaeoproterozoic crustal evolution in central West Greenland, to structures associated with late-Cretaceous subduction and exhumation of high pressure rocks in Oman. Development of structures during contraction or extension has been studied in the Alpi Apuane of northern Italy, while linkages between transpressional shearing and resulting structures and melts are currently being investigated in Cap de Creus, Spain. The study of Caledonian tectonics in the UK and Ireland is a long term programme which has involved analysis of Neoproterozoic sequences and glacials in the Dalradian rocks of Ireland and Scotland, together with structural analysis within Moine rocks and the Moine Thrust Zone itself. It has involved collaboration and production of map sheets and memoirs with the Irish Geological Survey and the British Geological Survey. I also act as one of the editors of the new "Field Guide to the Moine Geology of the NW Highlands of Scotland" which is currently in press.

Recumbent folding, Oman Recumbent folding (above blue truck) marked by orange-weathering Ordovician dolomite, Wadi Mayh, Oman (Photo © Ian Alsop). Unconformity, Oman Unconformity (above white jeep) between Palaeozoic sediments and overlying Permian limestone, Jebel Akhdar, Oman (Photo © Ian Alsop).

Selected Orogenic Tectonics Publications (please e-mail me for pdfs and reprints)


Publications

Complete Publication Listing (please e-mail me for pdfs and reprints)

Courses Coordinated
  • GL3024 3D Geological Structure
  • GL4018 Geological Synthesis; GL4522 Supercontinents
Courses Taught
  • GL1005 Geological Maps
  • GL3512 Field Techniques
PhD Students
  • Abdullah Awdal "Building 3-D fracture patterns from 1-D data" (Funding: Ministry of Higher Education & Research, Kurdistan)
  • Natalie Farrell "Quantifying fault stability" (Funding: Total)
  • Tom Haines "The influence of carbonate depositional and diagenetic textures on faulting in carbonates" (Funding: Total and BG)
  • Godhrawla Hozefa "The effects of reservoir production on structures in the surrounding rock "(Funding: HRH)
  • L. Enrique Huerta-Paez "Stratigraphy and sedimentation associated with salt tectonics and salt withdrawal in the main reservoir rocks of the North Mexican salt province." (Funding: Pemex)
  • Emma Michie "The influence of damage on the petrophysics of carbonate fault zones " (Funding: Total and BG)
  • Luis E Salomon Mora "Structure and tectonics associated with salt movement in the North Mexican salt Province." (Funding: Pemex)
  • Hilarion Sanchez-Hernandez "Tertiary Evolution of the Deep-Water Siliciclastic Systems in the Southwestern Gulf of Mexico." (Funding: PEMEX).
  • Liliana Vargas "Imaging and characterisation of salt diapir flanks". (Funding: National Board of Science and Technology & Ministry of Energy, Mexico)
Visitor Map
Contact Details
Office: Meston 133
Tel: (0)1224 273438
Email: