Professor ROBERT BUTLER
Chair in Tectonics
The Virtual Seismic Atlas (www.seismicatlas.org)
My research broadly falls into the study of structural geology and tectonics, generally integrating with other subdisciplines in the Earth Sciences. My chief drive is to understand localization of deformation - on various scales: within poorly consolidatetd sediments to establish how gravity flows couple with their substrates, through to establishing the patterns of large-scale deformation within continental lithosphere. Much of this research focusses on the structure and tectonics of sedimentary basins and continental margins. I have geographic interests, chiefly in quantifying the tectonic evolution of the central Mediterranean region through the Neogene - especially using the stratigraphic record to establish structural continuity, the rates and timing of deformation.
Much of my early research has been concerned with the kinematic evolution of thrust belts and thrust-type mountain ranges, the role of inherited structures/stratigraphy in influencing structural evolution. I have worked extensively on exhumation processes in mountain belts, from various parts of the Tethyan-Mediterranean-Alpine system and Himalayas. I have also worked in rift and transform settings, at all crustal levels.
For the past 20 years I have focussed on integrating the stratigraphic record with structural geology, increasingly using the exceptional seismic imagery coming from deepwater continental margins. Increasingly it will be from appropriately calibrated geophysical data - detecting deformation patterns in situ - that advances will come in tectonics and structural geology.
I am a passionate advocate for intelligent geoconservation and the promotion of geological heritage, especially in Scotland. The region contains world class examples, not only of compressional structures formed at various crustal depths (including the Moine thrust Belt) but also stunning arrays of basin-forming fault systems and tectono-magmatic structures.
The structural geology of submarine slopes, especially the development of gravitationally driven deformation structures.
Localization of deformation in the continental lithosphere - patterns, evolution and controls.
Messinian basins - interactions between stratigraphic and deformation processes.
Uncertainty and interpretation in structural geology, especially of geophysical datasets.
Validating structural interpretations through section balancing and restoration.
Convenor: L3 Structural Geology & Tectonics (GL3027)
Stratigraphical principles (GL2014)
Field classes: L3 Skye-Helmsdale; L3 NW Highlands; L5 fieldwork; MSc IPG leader of Sicily field class
Instructor with Turnstone training (www.turnstonetraining.com)
Council of the Geological Society of London;
(External Relations Committee, Awards Committee)
Director: Virtual Seismic Atlas
GPG Director of Research
Member of GPG Strategy Group
Contributions to Journals
- Butler, RWH. (in press). 'Area balancing as a test of models for the deep structure of mountain belts, with specific reference to the Alps'. Journal of Structural Geology.
[Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2013.03.009
- Iacopini, D., Butler, RWH. & Purves, S. (2012). 'Seismic imaging of thrust faults and structural damage: a visualization workflow for deepwater thrust belts'. First Break, vol 5, no. 30, pp. 39-46.
- Iacopini, D. & Butler, RWH. (2011). 'Imaging deformation in submarine thrust belts using seismic attributes'. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol 302, no. 3-4, pp. 414-422.
[Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2010.12.041
- Lloyd, GE., Butler, RWH., Casey, M., Tatham, DJ. & Mainprice, D. (2011). 'Constraints on the seismic properties of the middle and lower continental crust'. Special Publication - Geological Society of London, vol 360, pp. 7-32.
[Online] DOI: 10.1144/¿SP360.2
- Lloyd, GE., Halliday, J., Butler, RWH., Casey, M., Kendall, J-M, Wookey, J. & Mainprice, D. (2011). 'From crystal to crustal: petrofabric-derived seismic modelling of regional tectonics'. Special Publication - Geological Society of London, vol 360, pp. 49-78.
[Online] DOI: 10.1144/¿SP360.4
- Vinnels, JS., Butler, RWH., McCaffrey, WD. & Lickorish, WH. (2010). 'Sediment distribution and architecture around a bathymetrically complex basin: an example from the Eastern Champsaur Basin, SE France'. Journal of Sedimentary Research, vol 80, no. 3, pp. 216-235.
[Online] DOI: 10.2110/jsr.2010.025
- Eggenhuisen, JT., McCaffrey, WD., Haughton, PDW. & Butler, RWH. (2010). 'Small-scale spatial variability in turbidity current flow controlled by roughness resulting from substrate erosion: field evidence for a feedback mechanism'. Journal of Sedimentary Research, vol 80, no. 2, pp. 129-136.
[Online] DOI: 10.2110/jsr.2010.014
- Butler, RWH. & Paton, D. (2010). 'Evaluating lateral compaction in deepwater fold and thrust belts: How much are we missing from “nature’s sandbox”?'. GSA Today, vol 20, no. 3, pp. 4-10.
[Online] DOI: 10.1130/GSATG77A.1
- Butler, RWH. & McCaffrey, WD. (2010). 'Structural evolution and sediment entrainment in mass-transport complexes: outcrop studies from Italy'. Journal of the Geological Society, vol 167, no. 3, pp. 617-631.
[Online] DOI: 10.1144/0016-76492009-041
- Eggenhuisen, JT., McCaffrey, WD., Haughton, PDW., Butler, RWH., Moore, I., Jarvie, I. & Hakes, WG. (2010). 'Reconstructing large-scale remobilisation of deep-water deposits and its impact on sand-body architecture from cored wells: The Lower Cretaceous Britannia Sandstone Formation, UK North Sea'. Marine and Petroleum Geology, vol 27, no. 7, pp. 1595-1615.
[Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2010.04.005
- Eggenhuisen, JT., McCaffrey, WD., Haughton, PDW. & Butler, RWH. (2010). 'Shallow erosion beneath turbidity currents and its impact on the architectural development of turbidite sheet systems'. Sedimentology, vol 57, pp. 1365-1391.
- Butler, RWH. (2010). 'The role of thrust tectonic models in understanding structural evolution in NW Scotland'. Special Publication - Geological Society of London, vol 335, pp. 293-320.
[Online] DOI: 10.1144/¿SP335.14
- Butler, RWH. (2010). 'The geological structure of the North-West Highlands of Scotland - revisited: Peach et al. one hundred years on'. Special Publication - Geological Society of London, vol 335, pp. 7-27.
[Online] DOI: 10.1144/¿SP335.2
- Wibberley, CAJ. & Butler, RWH. (2010). 'Structure and internal deformation of the Arnaboll Thrust Sheet, NW Scotland: implications for structural styles and strain localization'. Special Publication - Geological Society of London, vol 335, pp. 321-331.
[Online] DOI: 10.1144/¿SP335.15
- Butler, RWH. (2009). 'Relationships between the Apennine thrust belt, foredeep and foreland revealed by marine seismic data, offshore Calabria'. Bollettino della Societa Geologica Italiana, vol 128, no. 2, pp. 269-278.
[Online] DOI: 10.3301/IJG.2009.128.2.269
- Lloyd, GE., Butler, RWH., Casey, M. & Mainprice, D. (2009). 'Mica, deformation fabrics and the seismic properties of the continental crust'. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol 288, no. 1-2, pp. 320-328.
[Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2009.09.035
- Butler, RWH., Bond, CE., Shipton, ZK., Jones, RR. & Casey, M. (2008). 'Fabric anisotropy controls faulting in the continental crust'. Journal of the Geological Society, vol 165, no. 2, pp. 449-452.
[Online] DOI: 10.1144/0016-76492007-129
- Tatham, DJ., Lloyd, GE., Butler, RWH. & Casey, M. (2008). 'Amphibole and lower crustal seismic properties'. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol 267, no. 1-2, pp. 118-128.
[Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2007.11.042
- Bond, CE., Butler, RWH. & Dixon, JE. (2007). 'Co-axial horizontal stretching within extending orogens: The exhumation of HP rocks on Syros (Cyclades) revisited'. Special Publication - Geological Society of London, vol 272, pp. 203-222.
- Bond, CE., Shipton, ZK., Jones, R., Butler, RWH. & Gibbs, AD. (2007). 'Knowledge Transfer in a digital world: field data acquisition, uncertainty, visualisation, and data management'. Geosphere, vol 3, no. 6, pp. 568-576.
[Online] DOI: 10.1130/GES00094.1
- Butler, RWH., Casey, M., Lloyd, GE., Bond, CE., McDade, P., Shipton, ZK. & Jones, RR. (2002). 'Vertical stretching and crustal thickening at Nanga Parbat, Pakistan Himalaya: a model for distributed continental deformation during mountain building'. Tectonics, vol 21, no. 4, pp. 9 1-108.
[Online] DOI: 10.1029/2001TC901022
- Butler, RWH. & Turner, JP. (2010). 'Gravitational collapse at continental margins: processes and products; An introduction'. Journal of the Geological Society, vol 167, no. 3, pp. 569-570.
[Online] DOI: 10.1144/¿0016-76492010-003
Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings
- Healy, D., Butler, RWH., Shipton, ZK. & Sibson, R. (2012). 'Stress, faulting, fracturing and seismicity: the legacy of Ernest Masson Anderson'. in D Healy, R Butler, Z Shipton & R Sibson (eds), Faulting, Fracturing and Igneous Intrusion in the Earth's Crust. vol. 367, Geological Society of London, pp. 1-6.
[Online] DOI: 10.1144/SP367.0
Books and Reports
- Mendum, J., Barber, AJ., Butler, RWH., Flinn, D., Goodenough, KM., Krabbendam, M., Park, G. & Stewart, A. (2009). 'Lewisian, Torridonian and Moine Rocks of Scotland'. Geological Conservation Review Series, no. 34, vol. 34, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, United Kingdom.
- Butler, RWH. (2008). 'Teaching geoscience through fieldwork'. GEES Learning and Teaching Guides, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom.