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Abstract

Deposition of the Callovian–Ryazanian Humber Group of the UK Central Graben occurred during rifting and long-term relative sea-level rise, which acted to suppress the formation of eustatically forced Exxon-type sequence boundaries. The superposition of highly variable halokinetically controlled subsidence means that classic, passive-margin derived sequence stratigraphic models are not appropriate to describe stratigraphic evolution in this rift setting. The sequence stratigraphy of the Humber Group has been re-evaluated using a transgressive–regressive sequence model, where maximum regressive surfaces are employed as sequence bounding surfaces. The Humber Group comprises two megasequences which reveal distinct phases of evolution of the basin. The latest Callovian–Kimmeridgian megasequence comprises a conformable sequence stack which lacks significant internal unconformities and records progressive marine flooding and overall backstepping onto the basin flanks during a phase of active rifting. The Volgian–Ryazanian megasequence is condensed and highly fragmentary due to punctuation by a number of unconformities which are consistently recognizable throughout the basin. The onset of this change in architectural style corresponds to the oldest unconformity at the base of the Volgian–Ryazanian succession, termed the Base Volgian–Ryazanian Unconformity, of latest Kimmeridgian to earliest Volgian age. The patterns of erosion of the Callovian–Kimmeridgian megasequence and the intra Volgian–Ryazanian unconformities record the effects of dramatic redistribution of underlying salt accompanied by probable uplift of the Forties–Montrose High and J Ridge, resulting in major modification of the basin morphology and the severing of possible earlier links with the Fisher Bank Basin. The kinematics of this event are equivocal, but it is possible that restricted Volgian–Ryazanian depocentres resulted from localized salt collapse rather than basement extension. Widespread erosion of Callovian–Kimmeridgian Humber Group sediments may have occurred in some areas where Volgian–Ryazanian Kimmeridge Clay deposits now overlie pre-Jurassic strata, and exploration models must incorporate the effects of Volgian reconfiguration in order to accurately predict reservoir distribution.

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