Take a first hand look at the basic working tools to explore and develop hydrocarbons in salt basins. This introduction to salt tectonics is intended for geoscientists, engineers, and managers who need review or update on this constantly evolving field. The course is appropriate for those working in any salt basin globally and assumes abasic familiarity with structural geology concepts and terminology
“Spectacular geology and history, together.” That’s how AAPG Honorary member Pinar Yilmaz of ExxonMobil set the scene for the upcoming International Conference and Exhibition (ICE), set Sept., 14-17 in Istanbul, Turkey.
The results of regional deep seismic acquisition in the South Atlantic continental margins have shed new lights on the birth and development of sedimentary basins formed during the Gondwana breakup. Recent models of mantle exhumation as observed in the deep water Iberian margin have been applied extensively to the interpretation of several basins in the Eastern Brazilian and West African conjugate margins. However, the tectonic development of these basins is markedly different from the magma-poor margins, and in this lecture we emphasize the contrasts from the tectono-sedimentary features imaged in deep-penetrating seismic profiles that extend from the platform towards the oceanic crust, which indicate that the Red Sea constitutes a better analogue for the birth of divergent continental margins.
Seismic correlations and well data confirm that deep-water carbonate beds of Mesozoic age have been found above the shallow allochthonous salt canopy in the northern Gulf of Mexico. These rafts of carbonate strata often overlie equivalent age Mesozoic carbonates in their correct stratigraphic position below the salt canopy. The presence of displaced Mesozoic carbonate rafts above the canopy raises two important questions: 1) how did Mesozoic strata get to such a shallow level in the basin statigraphy? and 2) what effect do high velocity carbonates have on seismic imaging below shallow salt?
Hydrocarbon exploration beneath the shallow allochthonous salt canopy of the ultra-deepwater central Gulf of Mexico has encountered three thick, sand-rich, submarine fan successions that punctuate an otherwise relatively condensed and fine-grained basin center stratigraphy. These sand-rich fans are Late Paleocene, Early Miocene, and Middle Miocene in age and each coincide with periods of very high sediment flux and basin margin instability. They are the primary exploration targets in most ultra-deepwater fields, recent discoveries, and failed exploration tests.
The Tarim Basin is one of the most important hydrocabon-bearing evaporite basins in China. Four salt-bearing sequences, the Middle and Lower Cambrian, the Mississippian, the Paleogene, and the Neogene, have various thickness and areal distribution. They are important detachment layers and intensely affect the structural deformation in the basin. The Kuqa depression is a subordinate structural unit with abundant salt structures in the Tarim Basin. Salt overthrusts, salt pillows, salt anticlines, salt diapirs, and salt-withdrawal basins are predominant in the depression. Contraction that resulted from orogeny played a key function on the formation of salt structures. Growth strata reveal that intense salt structural deformation in the Kuqa depression occurred during the Himalayan movement from Oligocene to Holocene, with early structural deformation in the north and late deformation in the south. Growth sequences also record at least two phases of salt tectonism. In the Yingmaili, Tahe, and Tazhong areas, low-amplitude salt pillows are the most common salt structures, and these structures are commonly accompanied by thrust faults. The faulting and uplifting of basement blocks controlled the location of salt structures. The differences in the geometries of salt structures in different regions show that the thickness of the salt sequences has an important influence on the development of salt-cored detachment folds and related thrust faults in the Tarim Basin.
Salt sequences and salt structures in the Tarim Basin are closely linked to hydrocarbon accumulations. Oil and gas fields have been discovered in the subsalt, intrasalt, and suprasalt strata. Salt deformation has created numerous potential traps, and salt sequences have provided a good seal for the preservation of hydrocarbon accumulations. Large- and small-scale faults related with salt structures have also given favorable migration pathways for oil and gas. When interpreting seismic profiles, special attention needs to be paid to the clastic and carbonate interbeds within the salt sequences because they may lead to incorrect structural interpretation. In the Tarim Basin, the subsalt anticlinal traps are good targets for hydrocarbon exploration.
Seismic correlations and well data confirm that deep-water carbonate beds of Mesozoic age have been found above the shallow allochthonous salt canopy in the northern Gulf of Mexico. These rafts of carbonate strata often overlie equivalent age Mesozoic carbonates in their correct stratigraphic position below the salt canopy.
The origin of keel structures is presently not well understood. As deformation occurs after shallow canopy emplacement, the keels are fairly recent developments geologically. Volumetrically few but intriguing observations suggest possible basement involvement in keel formation.
This course is designed to give participants the basic working tools to explore and develop hydrocarbons in salt basins. Because no two basins are alike, the focus is on understanding the processes and styles of salt-related deformation. At course completion participants should be able to under the depositional setting of layered evaporites, describe the mechanics of salt flow, interpret salt and stratal geometries associated with diapirs, salt welds, and minibasins, and assess more accurately the risks in the exploration of salt basins.
This e-symposium presents techniques for predicting pore pressure in seals by examining case studies from the Gulf of Mexico and incorporating the relationship between rocks, fluids, stress, and pressure.
There are more approximately 1,000 oil and gas fields in the world that have been classified as "giant," containing more than 500 million barrels of recoverable oil and /or 3 trillion cubic feet of gas.
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