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CANCELLED - Oceanic gateways: Modern and ancient analogs and their conceptual and economic implications

28 - 30 September 2020
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Event type:
Conference, Specialist Group
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, Petroleum Group, Marine Studies Group
The Geological Society, Burlington House
Event status:

Unfortunately this event has been cancelled.

Ocean basins are connected by gateways (sometimes referred to as seaways, passages, straits, corridors and channels). These are relatively narrow marine passages of varying depth that control surface, intermediate, or deep-water circulation (e.g. Drake Passage, Tasmanian Seaway, Strait of Gibraltar) which in turn controls the spatial and temporal distribution of deep-water strata, including various elements affecting existing and potential deep-water petroleum systems. Gateways play a critical role in exchanging water, heat, salt, dissolved oxygen and nutrients between ocean basins and smaller sub-basins such as the Mediterranean.

In the geological past, palaeogateways prevailed over dramatically different palaeocirculation and marine basin dynamics (e.g. Indian Gateway, Indonesian Gateway, Central American Seaway, Betic and Rifean corridors). The opening, deepening, and evolution of gateways and palaeogateways strongly influences the tectono-stratigraphic and sedimentary evolution of basins, global ocean circulation, poleward temperature gradients, polar climate, exchange and vertical structure of water masses, sedimentary processes, distribution of biota, evolution/extinction events, anoxia and hydrocarbon source rock and reservoir distribution.

Despite the importance of gateways, there remains considerable uncertainty concerning geologic and oceanographic/palaeoceanographic processes that occur within and around them. Understanding the long-term tectonic controls on gateway geometry and depth, for example, can help elucidate water exchange between oceanic basins, overflow, and other dynamics. This in turn can help establish definitive links between the long-term evolution of gateways, environmental change (e.g. climate), and petroleum system development.

On shorter time-scales, different oceanographic processes modulate each other but the specific nature of their interactions remains obscure. For example, overflows, tides, internal waves etc. apparently influence geostrophic circulation but what are the temporal patterns and the role of gateway bathymetry in this dependency? And what can the sedimentary architecture within and around gateways tell us about past or present dynamics?

These questions highlight the need for in-depth, multidisciplinary analysis of gateways at higher resolution using advanced methods and technology, which this event hopes to address.

This three-day conference aims to bring together diverse experts working on modern and ancient gateways in order to improve our knowledge, models, and predictive power. Sessions will include the following themes:

  • Oceanographic/palaeoceanographic processes
  • Tectonic controls on gateway geometry
  • Sedimentary processes and deposits within and around gateways
  • Data integration and multidisciplinary analysis
  • Implications of gateways and contourite deposits for hydrocarbon exploration

We invite oceanographers, palaeoceanographers, geomorphologists, sedimentologists, marine geologists and structural geologists, as well as petroleum geologists and researchers working in numerical modeling and plate tectonic reconstructions, to join this multidisciplinary platform and address both its academic and economic aims.


  • F. Javier Hernández-Molina (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
  • Rachel Flecker (University of Bristol, UK)
  • Anna Wåhlin (Univ. Gothenburg, Sweden)
  • Domenico Chiarella (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
  • Eleanor Stirling (BP, UK)
  • Karyna Rodriguez (Searcher, UK)
  • Francois Raisson (TOTAL S.A., France)
  • Giancarlo, Davoli (Eni SpA, Italy)
  • Juan J. Fedele, (ExxonMobil, USA)
  • Lauren Mayhew (Cairn Energy)

Geolsoc Contact

Sarah Woodcock

Geological Society of London
Burlington House
Piccadilly, London
United Kingdom

Event sponsors