We use three-dimensional seismic reflection data and new map-based structural restoration methods to define the displacement history and characteristics of a series of tear faults in the deep-water Niger Delta. Deformation in the deep-water Niger Delta is focused mostly within two fold-and-thrust belts that accommodate downdip shortening produced by updip extension on the continental shelf. This shortening is accommodated by a series of thrust sheets that are locally cut by strike-slip faults. Through seismic mapping and interpretation, we resolve these strike-slip faults to be tear faults that share a common detachment level with the thrust faults. Acting in conjunction, these structures have accommodated a north –south gradient in westward-directed shortening. We apply a map-based restoration technique implemented in Gocad to restore an upper stratigraphic horizon of the late Oligocene and use this analysis to calculate slip profiles along the strike-slip faults. The slip magnitudes and directions change abruptly along the lengths of the tear faults as they interact with numerous thrust sheets. The discontinuous nature of these slip profiles reflects the manner in which they have accommodated differential movement between the footwall and hanging-wall blocks of the thrust sheets. In cases for which the relationship between a strike-slip fault and multiple thrust faults is unclear, the recognition of this type of slip profile may distinguish thin-skinned tear faults from more conventional deep-seated, throughgoing strike-slip faults.
Added on 28 February, 2014
The Molasse Basin represents the northern foreland basin of the Alps. After decades of exploration, it is considered to be mature in terms of hydrocarbon exploration. However, geological evolution and hydrocarbon potential of its imbricated southernmost part (Molasse fold and thrust belt) are still poorly understood. In this study, structural and petroleum systems models are integrated to explore the hydrocarbon potential of the Perwang imbricates in the western part of the Austrian Molasse Basin.
The structural model shows that total tectonic shortening in the modeled north–south section is at least 32.3 km (20.1 mi) and provides a realistic input for the petroleum systems model. Formation temperatures show present-day heat flows decreasing toward the south from 60 to 41 mW/m2. Maturity data indicate very low paleoheat flows decreasing southward from 43 to 28 mW/m2. The higher present-day heat flow probably indicates an increase in heat flow during the Pliocene and Pleistocene.
Apart from oil generated below the imbricated zone and captured in autochthonous Molasse rocks in the foreland area, oil stains in the Perwang imbricates and oil-source rock correlations argue for a second migration system based on hydrocarbon generation inside the imbricates. This assumption is supported by the models presented in this study. However, the model-derived low transformation ratios (20%) indicate a charge risk. In addition, the success for future exploration strongly depends on the existence of migration conduits along the thrust planes during charge and on potential traps retaining their integrity during recent basin uplift.
Added on 31 January, 2014
We present a method of using fault displacement-distance profiles to distinguish fault-bend, shear fault-bend, and fault-propagation folds, and use these insights to guide balanced and retrodeformable interpretations of these structures. We first describe the displacement profiles associated with different end-member fault-related folding models, then provide examples of structures that are consistent with these model-based predictions. Natural examples are imaged in high-resolution two- and three dimensional seismic reflection data sets from the Niger Delta, Sichuan Basin, Sierras Pampeanas, and Cascadia to record variations in displacement with distance updip along faults (termed displacement-distance profiles). Fault-bend folds exhibit constant displacement along fault segments and changes in displacement associated with bends in faults, shear fault-bend folds demonstrate an increase in displacement through the shearing interval, and fault-propagation folds exhibit decreasing displacement toward the fault tip. More complex structures are then investigated using this method, demonstrating that displacement-distance profiles can be used to provide insight into structures that involve multiple fault-related folding processes or have changed kinematic behavior over time. These interpretations are supported by comparison with the kinematics inferred from the geometry of growth strata overlying these structures. Collectively, these analyses illustrate that the displacement-distance approach can provide valuable insights into the styles of fault-related folding.
Added on 31 January, 2014
Volumetric restoration can provide crucial insights into the structural evolution of three-dimensional (3-D) petroleum systems. A major limitation to its widespread application is the need to include complex architectures and realistic mechanics such as flexural slip. We apply an implicit approach that allows for, including unconformities, thin and/or pinched-out layers in the models but that cannot explicitly localize slip along horizons. To take advantage of this approach while accounting for flexural slip in 3-D restoration, we investigate new geomechanical properties. We consider flexural slip folding as a result of stacked rigid and thin weak layers, which can be modeled using transversely isotropic properties. We compare restorations of an anticline using transversely isotropic properties, isotropic properties, and a stack of rigid isotropic layers with nonfrictional slip between the layers. Our results show that transversely isotropic properties reasonably approximate flexural slip folding. We use these new tools to model the evolution of a complex system located in the Niger Delta toe. The system includes a detachment fold, a fault-bend fold, and a structural wedge formed in series. Growth stratigraphy and erosional surfaces delimit the kinematics of deformation. Regional erosive surfaces, 3-D gradients of fault slip, and vertical variations in mechanical strength motivated the use of our new restoration techniques. Restoring two growth units results not only in reinforcing the interpretation that the area is behaving as a deforming thrust sheet at critical taper, but also in highlighting coeval activity on both the hinterland structures and the toe of the thrust belt.
Added on 31 December, 2012
AAPG’s prestigious Distinguished Lecturer program, which offers audiences a chance to hear the latest in geoscience research, understanding and practical applications, kicks-off its new season with three speaking tours planned for September.
Added on 01 September, 2011
Italy will be in the AAPG spotlight in October as it becomes, for the first time ever, the host country for the AAPG International Conference and Exhibition.
Added on 01 October, 2011
A $3.5 million proprietary 3-D seismic survey was recorded in central Pennsylvania region to determine the effectiveness of modern 3-D/3C seismic data in extracting certain rock properties of the Marcellus Shale.
Added on 01 September, 2011
Explorer Geophysical Corner
In the rough terrain of overthrust settings, 2-D seismic data continues to be a standard tool for subsurface mapping – and not only because of economic reasons. Two-D and 3-D seismic surveys are complementary in land environments, because each data type has its own strength and weakness.
Added on 01 August, 2012
Explorer Historical Highlight
This story, whose outcome was an important milestone for Total’s exploration at the time of discovery, can be seen as complementary to the Mahakam success story, described in the September 2011 Historical Highlights column.
Added on 01 August, 2013
Explorer Regions and Sections
Oil production in Nigeria started in 1958 after the discovery of Oloibiri oil field in 1956.
Added on 01 May, 2012