Lay summary
Sedimentary sequences contain a sensitive record of the geological and geographical history of the region where they have been deposited.Marginal-marine basins are particularly sensitive to environmentalchanges: the sequences there record timing and amplitude of these changes and provide information on the mechanisms triggering them. This information can be extracted using techniques such as sequence stratigraphy, which in turn is based on detailed sedimentological and (micro-)palaeontological analyses. The goal is to trace the distribution of sedimentary facies and depositional sequences in time and space. The interest is not only academic to reach a better understanding of past environmental changes, but also economic because certain facies and certain parts of the sequences may contain natural resources (oil, gas, minerals).

The proposed research aims to investigate Sarmatian (Middle-Late Miocene) deposits in Georgia, which palaeogeographically belonged to the eastern Paratethys realm. Sedimentological, biostratigraphical, and sequence stratigraphical methods will be employed.
Expected results are:
-identification and dating of the depositional sequences;
-tracing their geometry and facies in space and time;
-developing a palaeogeographical model of the region during theMiddle-Late Miocene.

By using a sequence-stratigraphic approach rather than standard biostratigraphic subdivisions, the resulting palaeogeographic maps will be much more precise than the existing ones and will better reveal the environmental changes within the Miocene basins of Georgia.

This approach will also provide the framework to interpret the relative sea-level changes that affected the study area during the Middle-Late Miocene and will allow their correlation with over-regionally recognized eustatic changes. Sequence correlation between several basins in Georgia will reveal if there is a causal link between sequence boundaries and global sea-level fluctuations, if sequence boundaries are related to regional tectonic movements, or if they are caused by the interaction of both phenomena.

The proposed multidisciplinary investigation of Sarmatian deposits in Georgia will also provide the framework for the improved exploration of mineral deposits and the identification of potential new oil and gas fields. It is hoped that this research will contribute to the socio-economic development of Georgia in spinning-off hydrocarbon research. This research is presently in the hands of British oil companies, where Georgians have only a marginal role to play. Therefore, enhancing the professional qualifications of Georgian scientists contributes to improving their employment opportunities in this field.

The confrontation with new techniques and state-of-the-art interpretation of geological data as well as the contacts with colleagues from western Europe will allow the Georgian partners involved in this project to improve their knowledge and to train a new generation of young scientists in Georgian universities. As a final goal, this project will contribute to bridge the present gap in communication and co-operation with western countries.