Stratigraphic and sedimentary models are important tools in reducing exploration risk and have been successfully applied in both mature and frontier basin exploration settings. However, although these models are based on decades of research, they rely primarily on temperate and tropical latitude analogs. The question is whether this inherently biases the results of such models when they are applied to systems at higher latitudes, which may have ramifications for high latitude exploration.
Examples of processes that are known to vary with latitude include Coriolis effects, which are stronger at high latitudes, whereas tidal forces are weaker. Then there are the extremes of seasonality in higher latitudes that affect fauna and flora, as well as resulting in more variable hydrological conditions leading to highly seasonal fluvial discharge. In addition, some important high latitude processes such as ice melt algal blooms have no temperate or tropical equivalent and are thus unaccounted for in established models. The sum of these differences can, and do, impact numerous play elements including reservoir, source, and seal in both their quality and distribution.
With increasing exploration interest in high latitudes, especially the Arctic, it is timely to examine in more detail process variability at different latitudes, and determine how stratigraphic and sedimentary facies models should be modified (or not) to include that variability.