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Kurt Rudolph - The Assembly of Pangea, a View from Laurentia: Paleozoic Orogenies and their Impact on Basin Evolution and Petroleum Systems

AAPG Distinguished Lecture Series, 2023-24 Season

AAPG Distinguished Lecture Series, 2023-24 Season


A Distinguished Lecture talk given by Kurt Rudolph during 2023-24 AAPG DL Season.

Paleozoic North America has experienced multiple mountain building events, from Ordovician to Permian, on all margins of the continent. These had a profound effect on the associated basins and petroleum systems. In this study we employ basin models, flexural models, isopachs, and paleogeographic maps to better understand the Paleozoic history of North America. Four thematic learnings emerge: Constraints on the magnitude, timing, and location of collisional events. For the final Appalachian Orogeny (Alleghanian), the onset of flexural subsidence becomes younger to the northeast. Whereas the Ouachita Orogeny youngs to the southwest, indicating a progressive closure from an indenter in the Alabama-Kentucky area. Kinematic linkages between continent margin and interior. Sag basins, whose origins remain cryptic, can be tied to adjacent orogenies. This includes the Michigan and Williston basins, which are synchronous to the Salinic and Antler orogenies, respectively. Ancestral Rocky Mountain basins of the continental interior also share kinematic linkages, based on subsidence timing. Controls on sedimentary fill character and source rocks. Often the onset of rapid subsidence associated with orogenesis is marked by a rapid transgression and condensed section that is associated with marine source rocks and shale reservoirs. This pattern is observed for the Utica, Marcellus, Wolfcamp, and Horn River source rocks. Reconstruction of thick Permian basin fill in exhumed basins. Many of these basins have experienced significant post-Paleozoic erosion by vertical unroofing and/or subsequent deformation. High vitrinite reflectance in outcropping and shallow strata indicate significant burial and ensuing removal. Using calibrated basin models, significant upper Pennsylvanian and Permian section has been restored in the Appalachian and Ouachita forelands, with 2-3.5 km of eroded section estimated.

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Distinguished Lecturer


Kurt Rudolph

Adjunct Professor, Univ. of Houston and Rice University

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