Imperial College London

Professor Christopher Jackson

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Professor of Basin Analysis



+44 (0)20 7594 7450c.jackson Website




1.46ARoyal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





My current research is focused in three main areas; (i) tectono-stratigraphic evolution of extensional basins; (ii) structural and stratigraphic development of salt basins; and (iii) dynamic subsurface processes.

Tectono-Stratigraphic Evolution of Extensional Basins

Evolving fault segments, arrays and fault-related folds may impact accomodation development in extensional basin and, as a result, facies variations in and the sequence stratigraphy of coeval syn-rift strata. Conversly, because syn-rift facies distributions vary in response to the evolving structural template, they may provide important information on the temporal and spatial evolution of rift-related structures. We utilise both traditional fieldwork techniques and seismic data to understand fundemental structural and stratigraphic processes in rifts. At present, my research is focused on rifts that have experienced multiple phases of deformation (i.e. polyphase rifts) and those that have been influenced by salt in the pre-rift mechano-stratigraphic template (i.e. salt-influenced rifts).

Image above: Time-structure map of the top Oxfordian seismic horizon along the Stavanger Fault Zone, Egersund Basin, offshore Norway. A thick-skinned (i.e. salt-breaching), surface-breaking, SW-dipping fault in the NW loses displacement and passes to the SE, along-strike, into a forced-fold. The footwall of the structure is deformed by a series of thin-skinned (i.e. salt-detached) faults and a salt diapir. For more information see Lewis et al. (2013).

  • Associated internal staff and students include: Dr Rebecca Bell (Structural evolution of polyphase and salt-influenced rifts), Dr Amandine Prelat (Internal and external controls on deep-water sedimentary systems), Dr Oliver Duffy (Structural evolution of polyphase rifts), Matthew Lewis (Fault growth and fault-related folding in rifts), Nicholas Holgate (A comparative study of the controls on shoreline trajectories in rifts), Antje Lenhart (Structural evolution of polyphase rifts), Johan Claringbould (Structural evolution of polyphase rifts), Adamu Suleiman (Structure and stratigraphy of continental rifts), Thomas Phillips (Structural style and evolution of salt-influenced polyphase rifts) and Matthew Reeve (Structural style and evolution of polyphase extensional basins.

Structural and Stratigraphic Development of Salt Basins

I am interested in a range of issues related to the stratigraphic and structural development of salt. Current research is focused on: (i) the stratigraphic development of so-called 'saline giants' (e.g. Aptian salts of the Brazilian margin, Messinian salts of the eastern Mediterranean); (ii) the style of deformation that occurs within salt deposits during the growth of large salt structures; and (iii) the way in which salt modulates the tectono-stratigraphic development of extensional basins.

Image above: 3D perspective of a time-structure map of the top Ariri Fm (top salt), Santos Basin, offshore Brazil. A series of high-relief (>500 m) salt walls are developed that are arranged in a crudely polygonal pattern. Intervening minibasins contain a thick succession of carbonates and clastics. The Ariri Fm in the Santos Basin is unusual because the upper part of this salt-bearing succession is dominated by strongly-layered evaporites. For more information see PhD project of Clara Rodriguez.

  • Associated internal staff and students include: Donatella Astratti (Multiscale characterization of halokinetic faults on passive margins), Hayley Allen (Seismic-stratigraphy and structural styles in Messinian salt), Abdulaziz Albalushi (Petroleum systems implications of the Messinian Salinity Crisis), Clara Rodriguez (Structure and stratigraphy of thick salt deposits) and Azli Abu Baker (Control of faulting and halokinesis on shallow marine sedimentation).

Dynamic Subsurface Processes

The movement of fluids (including magma) in sedimentary basins is controlled by and can influence the physical properties and structure of the host rock. Seismic data can aid in determining the interaction between fluids, stratigraphy and structure from a local to a regional scale.

These data, when integrated with well data, allow analysis of the architecture of magmatic systems and clastic remobilisation and injection, as well as the causes and consequences of fluid release following diagenesis. Understanding fluid migration is therefore important in terms of understanding basin evolution and petroleum systems development.

Image above: Seismic section across a series of sills (right and centre) and a laccolith (left) in the Bight Basin, offshore southern Australia. For more information see Jackson (2012) and Jackson et al. (in press). See also research of Craig Magee.

  • Associated internal staff and students include: Thilo Wrona (Geometry and evolution of the Opal A-CT diagenetic front on the Norwegian Margin: a combined seismic, borehole and geochemical study) and Dr Craig Magee (3D seismic analysis of sill-dominated igneous complexes)

CURRENT Sponsoring/Supporting Companies

  • Statoil
  • Norsk Forskningsrad (Research Council of Norway)
  • Schlumberger-Western Geco
  • Petronas
  • Petroleum Technology Development Fund of Nigeria (PTDF)
  • London Petrophysical Society
  • iRock Technologies
  • PGS
  • CGG
  • Indonesian Education Scholarship (BPI)


Dr Thilo Wrona, University of Bergen, Structural style and kinematics of rift-related normal fault growth, 2016 - 2018

Dr Craig Magee, Imperial College, Seismic reflection analysis of magmatic systems, 2015 - 2018

Dr Michael Hudec, Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG), University of Texas at Austin, Salt tectonics

Dr Martin Jackson, Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG), University of Texas at Austin, Salt tectonics

Dr Atle Rotevatn, Centre for Integrated Petroleum Research (CIPR), Salt tectonics

Dr Rebecca Bell, Imperial College, Structural evolution of rift basins

Professor Al Fraser, Imperial College, Seismic-stratigraphic analysis and petroleum impact of the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Dr David Hodgson, University of Leeds, 3D seismic evidence for the initiation, translation and arrest of mass transport complexes

Professor Rob Gawthorpe, University of Bergen, Structural and stratigraphic development of rifts

Dr Gary Hampson, Imperial College, Shallow marine sedimentology and stratigraphy in rifts

Professor Howard Johnson, Imperial College, Stratigraphic evolution of passive margins

Dr Mads Huuse, University of Manchester, Soft-sediment deformation and fluid flow

Guest Lectures

Terra Infirma; What Has Salt Tectonics Ever Done For Us?, Geological Society of London, London, 2014

Halfway between the gutter and the scar; a review of mass-transport complexes (MTCs) and look forward, British Sedimentological Research Group (BSRG), Hull, 2013

Igneous intrusions in sedimentary basins; 3D seismic expression, emplacement mechanisms and implications for hydrocarbon exploration, Aberdeen Geological Society, Aberdeen, 2014

Hot rocks beneath our feet; studying igneous geology using 3D seismic reflection data, Royal Holloway, London, 2013

Tectono-stratigraphic development of salt-influenced rift basins, Schlumberger-WesternGeco, Houston, USA, 2013

Characterisation and origin of anhydrite-rich ‘lateral caprock’ adjacent to halite-cored salt diapirs; implications for prospectivity in salt basins, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, USA, 2013

Quantitative seismic geomorphology of fluvial depositional systems and implications for reservoir modelling, University of Leeds, 2011

3D seismic imaging of lower delta-plain depositional systems, Brent Group (Middle Jurassic), northern North Sea, University of Bergen, 2011

Seismic interpretation of structural and stratigraphic features in sedimentary basins, University of Liverpool, 2006

Seismic interpretation of structural and stratigraphic features in sedimentary basins, Keele University, 2007

Extensional and compressional deformation above a mobile substrate and implications for petroleum prospectivity: a 3D seismic study from the hangingwall of the South Viking Graben, University of Edinburgh, 2008

Deposition and large-scale soft-sediment deformation of deep-water channel systems: a 3D seismic case study from offshore Norway, University of Leicester, 2008

Variability of deep-water depositional systems at outcrop, NW Borneo, Malaysia, University of Leeds, 2008

Why geologists should use 3D seismic data: a case study from offshore Norway, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environmental Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, 2010

Research Student Supervision

Mannie,AS, The rise and fall of diapirs during regional extension and its influence on the deposition of a net-transgressive coastal-plain-to-shallow-marine succession: Middle-to-Upper Jurassic, Norwegian Central Graben (completed 2014)

Reeve,M, Decoding multi-phase tectonic history from sedimentary basins: a case study from the North West Shelf of Australia

Phillips,T, Impact of salt and basement weaknesses on the structural development of rift basins

Ortiz-Karpf,A, Do deep-water channel levees document syn-depositional changes in bathymetry? (based at University of Leeds; completed 2016)

Suleiman,AA, Sequence stratigraphy, seismic facies analysis and integrated petroleum system analysis of the Nigerian sector of Chad Basin

Lenhart,A, The role of pre-existing structural fabrics on the tectono-stratigraphic evolution of rift basins

Abu Bakar,A, Control of rift-related normal faulting and halokinesis on the development of shallow marine depositional systems

Claringbould,JS, Structural and Stratigraphic Expression of Multiphase Extension in Rift Basins (completed 2016)

Tvedt,A, Kinematics of normal fault growth above evaporite-rich successions (based at University of Bergen; completed 2016)

Olobayo,O, Remobilization and injection of clastic sediment in deep-water settings of the Niger Delta and the North Sea (based at University of Manchester; completed 2015)

de Boer,J, Tectono-stratigraphic evolution of rift basins - from subsurface to outcrop (based at University of Bergen)

Al-Balushi,A, Impact of the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) on hydrocarbon maturation and migration (completed 2014)

Allen,H, Stratigraphy and Structural Evolution of the Messinian Evaporite Complex in the Eastern Mediterranean (completed 2014)

Kieft,R, Sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy of shallow marine sediments in a syn-rift setting: Hugin Formation, South Viking Graben (completed 2010)

Massart,B, Improved characterization and modeling of low-permeability sandstone reservoirs (completed 2014))

Lewis,M, Structural and stratigraphic evolution of extensional fault-propagation folds (completed 2014)

Patruno,S, Linkage between shelf and slope depositional systems along the margins of an active rift basin: insights from shoreline trajectories analysis (completed 2013)

Holgate,N, A comparative study of controls on shoreline trajectories in rift-margin and rift-interior shallow marine systems (completed 2014)

Alqahtani,F, Quantitative seismic geomorphology of Late Pleistocene fluvial systems, Malay Basin, offshore SE Malaysia (completed 2010)

Whipp,P, Fault-related folding and the growth of normal faults (completed 2011)

Zakaria,AA, Sedimentology and reservoir characterisation of Tertiary deepwater sandstones in NW Borneo (completed 2010)

McAndrew,A, The Origin and Significance of a Major Rift-Related Unconformity (completed 2010)

Dmitrieva,E, Deposition and remobilisation of deep-marine sandbodies in the northern North Sea (completed 2014)