Seismic tomographic interpretation of Paleozoic sedimentary sequences in the southeastern North Sea

Lars Nielsen, Hans Thybo, Martin Glendrup

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Seismic wide-angle data were recorded to more than 300-km offset from powerful airgun sources during the MONA LISA experiments in 1993 and 1995 to determine the seismic-velocity structure of the crust and uppermost mantle along three lines in the southeastern North Sea with a total length of 850 km. We use the first arrivals observed out to an offset of 90 km to obtain high-resolution models of the velocity structure of the sedimentary layers and the upper part of the crystalline crust. Seismic tomographic traveltime inversion reveals 2-8-km-thick Paleozoic sedimentary sequences with P-wave velocities of 4.5-5.2 km/s. These sedimentary rocks are situated below a Mesozoic-Cenozoic sequence with variable thickness: ∼2-3 km on the basement highs, ∼2-4 km in the Horn Graben and the North German Basin, and ∼6-7 km in the Central Graben. The thicknesses of the Paleozoic sedimentary sequences are ∼3-5 km in the Central Graben, more than 4 km in the Horn Graben, up to ∼4 km on the basement highs, and up to 8 km in the North German Basin. The Paleozoic strata are clearly separated from the shallower and younger sequences with velocities of ∼1.8-3.8 km/s and the deeper crystalline crust with velocities of more than 5.8-6.0 km/s in the tomographic P-wave velocity model. Resolution tests show that the existence of the Paleozoic sediments is well constrained by the data. Hence, our wide-angle seismic models document the presence of Paleozoic sediments throughout the southeastern North Sea, both in the graben structures and in deep basins on the basement highs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R45-R56
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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