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Tethyan Carbonates

May's Shell London lecture, delivered by Keith Gerdes (Shell) at the Geological Society on 18 May 2011.

The carbonate sequences that were deposited in the now exhumed Tethyan Ocean influence many aspects of our lives today, either by supplying the energy that warms our homes and the fuel that powers our cars or providing the stunning landscapes for both winter and summer vacations. They also represent some of the most intensely studied rock formations in the world and have provided geoscientists with a fascinating insight into the turbulent nature of 250 Million years of Earth’s history.

By combining studies from the full range of geoscience disciplines this presentation will trace the development of these carbonate sequences from their initial formation on the margins of large ancient continental masses to their present day locations in and around the Greater Mediterranean and Near East region.

The first order regional and local controls on growth patterns and carbonate platform development will be illustrated. The organisms that contribute to sequence development will be revealed to be treasure troves of forensic information. Finally, these rock sequences will be shown to contain all the ingredients necessary to form and retain hydrocarbons and the manner in which major post-depositional tectonic events led to the formation of some of the largest hydrocarbon accumulations in the world will be demonstrated.


Dr Keith Gerdes


Keith Gerdes grew up approximately 15 miles east of Burlington House in Dagenham, Essex. After studying Geology and Geophysics at Durham University and taking part in geophysical research cruises in the Arctic, Atlantic and Indian Oceans he obtained his PhD from the University of Swansea in Wales on the plate tectonic evolution of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

He has travelled extensively during his geoscience career and his activities in the global search for new hydrocarbon resources have contributed to the discovery of new reserves in the Far East, Africa and the former Soviet Union. He regularly contributes to international conferences and has published a number of papers on various aspects of petroleum geoscience with particular focus on the integration of plate tectonics, basin analysis and sequence stratigraphy in the search for new sources of energy.

His career in the energy industry has spanned both major International companies and smaller independent organizations focused solely on exploration. He is actively involved in furthering the links between Industry and academia at a number of UK and European Universities. He is currently based in the Head Office of Shell International in The Hague.