Hitting the dinosaur slopes

A UiS research team is set to explore high Arctic geology from the Lower Cretaceous period – a time when dinosaurs walked the land.

Photo of researchers studying Lower Cretaceous sandstone at Ullaberget, Van Keulenfjorden, Western Spitsbergen

The project is called «Locra» for short. A new industry-supported research consortium, the project is led by the University of Stavanger (UiS) and the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) in collaboration with other Norwegian, Russian, Danish and American universities.

With more than 12 industry sponsors and support from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate over the next four years, Locra wants to improve the knowledge of the lesser-known Lower Cretaceous basins in the Arctic region.

Important goals are to better predict previous depositional environments and reconstruct the paleogeography during the Early Cretaceous, an epoch where dinosaurs walked on dry land between North America and Svalbard. Work on the project has already begun.

From UiS, researchers Alejandro Escalona, Udo Zimmermann and Lisa Bingham will be joined by two PhDs and several MSc and BSc students. From UNIS, researchers Snorre Olaussen and Sten-Andreas Grundvåg will be joined by several PhD and MSc students.

Analysing rocks
Escalona and one PhD student will perform seismic interpretation of data from the area. Zimmermann and one PhD student will analyse rock provenance. Bingham will be in charge of geographic information systems, as well as functioning as the UiS project coordinator.

For the master students, this project will provide exciting material for their theses. The BSc students will be able to work as research assistants, starting this summer.

Read more about the Lower Cretaceous basin studies in the Arctic