Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Dr David McCarthy

Research interests:

I’m a structural geologist in the petroleum geoscience team at the British Geological Survey. My PhD focused on quantifying rock deformation across fold and thrust belts, particularly the Rockies of Montana and Wyoming, and the Variscides in Southern Ireland.
My research interests vary around all aspects of structural geology and include:
Quantifying rock deformation (rock magnetics and microstructures)
Thrust belt development
Petroleum geology (geophysics, seismic interpretation, etc.)
South Atlantic evolution and break-up of Gondwana

Since joining, the BGS in 2014 I have been involved with, and now lead the Falkland Islands Geoscience Consultancy project. This role involves providing objective and impartial advice regarding hydrocarbon exploration to policy makers in the islands.

Career history:

2017 – ongoing: Early Career Researcher Rep. Tectonics Studies Group
2015 – ongoing : Project Leader of the Falklands Geoscience Consultancy Project
2014 – ongoing : Petroleum and basin analyst (British Geological Survey)
2011 –2015 : PhD University College Cork Structural Geology
2005 –2009 : BSc (Hons) University College Cork

Active research projects:

Falkland Islands Geoscience Consultancy
This project provides advice on all aspects of petroleum exploration to the Falkland Island Government, and requires disseminating and interpreting large volumes of different types of geological and geophysical data, but also advising on the uncertainties associated with hydrocarbon exploration. The focus of this work is to provide objective and impartial advice to policy makers in the islands.

Evolution of a micro-continent during continental break-up; re-evaluating the Falklands Plateau
This project, a collaboration with PhD student Roxana Stanca and Prof. Douglas Paton at Leeds University, aims to re-evaluate the tectonic evolution of the Falklands Plateau, which not only had an important role in the break up of Gondwana, the opening of the South Atlantic and an effect on globally significant currents, such as the South Atlantic Current and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

The nature, consequences and controls of deformation during superimposed rifting: the Inner Moray Firth Basin
Widely regarded as a world-class example of a structurally complex continental rift basin, the Inner Moray Firth Basin (IMFB), Scotland, has experienced a long history of superimposed rifting and inversion events since its initiation in the Devonian. The absolute timing and significance of many deformation events has remained uncertain, whilst the role of reactivation of both basement fabrics and earlier formed, basin-bounding brittle faults is disputed mainly due to the inherent resolution limitations of offshore geophysical and borehole analyses. This project proposes a detailed study of key basin-bounding faults and associated deformation features using fieldwork, microscopy and Re-Os geochronology to give new insights into the kinematics, timing and structural controls of rift basin development. This PhD project led by Alexandra Tamas at Durham, is a collaboration between Durham, Heriot Watt and BGS.

Recent publications:

Westhead, R.K., McCarthy, D.J., Collier, J.S. and Sanderson, D.J., 2017. Spatial variability of the Purbeck–Wight Fault Zone—a long-lived tectonic element in the southern UK. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.
McCarthy, D., Aldiss, D., Arsenikos, S., Stone, P. and Richards, P., Comment on “Geophysical evidence for a large impact structure on the Falkland (Malvinas) Plateau”. Terra Nova.
Meere, P.A., Mulchrone, K.F., McCarthy, D.J., Timmerman, M.J. and Dewey, J.F., 2016. Prelithification and synlithification tectonic foliation development in a clastic sedimentary sequence: REPLY. Geology, 44(7), pp.e397-e397.
Mulchrone, K.F., Meere, P.A. and McCarthy, D.J., 2015. 2D model for development of steady‐state and oblique foliations in simple shear and more general deformations. Ductile Shear Zones: From Micro-to Macro-scales, pp.30-45.
McCarthy, D.J., Meere, P.A. and Petronis, M.S., 2015. A comparison of the effectiveness of clast based finite strain analysis techniques to AMS in sandstones from the Sevier Thrust Belt, Wyoming. Tectonophysics, 639, pp.68-81.

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