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Caribbean Paleogeographic Evolution and Hydrocarbon Exploration Framework

Monday, 13 September 2021, 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.  |  Virtual Short Course via Zoom (Houston, Texas time)

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Who Should Attend

This course benefits government agency managers and work teams, exploration managers and explorationists concerned with assessing hydrocarbon opportunities and risk, and university teachers and students working in regional tectonic and basin analysis and the paleogeographic evolution and hydrocarbon habitat of the Caribbean.


The course provides attendees with a documented and well-referenced comprehensive framework and appreciation for Caribbean evolution, hydrocarbon setting and exploration parameters and to show them how their own country or exploration program fits into the hydrocarbon potential of the greater region.

This course raises awareness of the tectonic controls on basin evolution and enhances attendees’ ability to converse openly about Caribbean exploration issues, opportunities and risks. In addition to providing a common framework to assess the key parameters of existing and new exploration acreage, the course serves as a refresher in plate tectonics, basin analysis and paleogeographic reconstruction.

Course Modules

The course includes a series of eight modules, each of which includes a lecture followed by Q&A with the instructor.

Course Schedule

Times appear in US Central Daylight (Houston) time (GMT -5)

08:00-08:45 Introduction, and key geology and tectonic setting of the Caribbean and adjacent margins
08:45-09:45 Stratigraphy and evolution of the Proto-Caribbean (Atlantic) passive margins
09:45-10:00 Break
10:00-11:00 Tectonic styles of subduction systems and magmatic arc development
11:00-12:00 Pacific origin of the Caribbean Plate and migration history between the Americas
12:00-12:30 Lunch Break
12:30-13:15 Hydrocarbons 1: The Caribbean Interior and Yucatán, Grenada and Cayman Trough basins
13:15-14:00 Hydrocarbons 2: Selected topics in southern Mexico, Central America, and Greater Antilles
14:00-14:15 Break
14:15-15:00 Hydrocarbons 3: Key aspects for Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad, Barbados, the Guianas
15:00-16:00 Closing remarks and Q & A.
Course Content

The Caribbean is one of world’s complicated “inter-plate deformation zones,” with a wide variety of exploration settings and plays. Caribbean evolution is directly responsible for the western hemisphere’s greatest hydrocarbon accumulations along northern South America.

This notoriously complex region has intrigued geoscientists for decades, and understanding the Caribbean plate’s origin and processes has inspired the life’s work of tectonic experts like course instructor James Pindell.

In his 1985 PhD thesis, Pindell developed a robust methodology for paleogeographic analysis of this region, providing a straightforward approach to explain the distinct stages of development by following standard textbook geological processes and principles.

In his method and his teaching, Pindell explains that the Caribbean’s apparent complexity is due only to the superposition of the geological manifestations of these distinct stages. Hydrocarbon source, reservoir, seal, trap and timing are considered each step of the way, and the evolutionary models allow a predictive element to exploration where data are poor or lacking.

Caribbean Paleogeographic Evolution and Hydrocarbon Exploration Framework provides an integrated, one-day summary of the primary findings and principles from more than 40 years of study and shows how those findings apply to individual nations and provinces around the Caribbean.

Throughout the course, Pindell shares knowledge gleaned through his study of subsurface data in numerous interactive work programs with the national oil companies (NOCs) and hydrocarbon commissions in Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Colombia, Barbados, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Working collaboratively with needs-designed research teams, these programs have entailed extensive field and lab work, geochronology and paleontological dating, heavy mineral work, seismic and potential fields data interpretation, well/core observation and analysis, and geological integration and synthesis with documented plate motion histories.

Programs have been funded by international exploration companies since 1985 in the hopes of establishing working tectonic models and hydrocarbon generation histories at the regional, national and basin scales.

The lessons learned are many, and now knowledge gained over 40 years is available to participants with a single day through a series of lectures and Q&A sessions.

The course provides a fast-track summary of what we know, what we don’t know, and what needs to be done to understand the remaining problems.

Expires on
25 October, 3013
AAPG Member Fee
Expires on
25 October, 3013
Non-Member Fee
Expires on
25 October, 3013
AAPG Student Member Fee
Expires on
25 October, 3013
Student Non-Member Fee

Fee includes: Access to live session with instructor, digital course notes and certificate of participation.

Seating is limited so register now to reserve your place!

Payment Information:
  • All prices are listed in USD.
  • Payment on the AAPG website is available for individuals using a credit or debit card.
  • To pay via wire transfer or to make a single payment for multiple registrations, please contact Diana Ruiz, AAPG Latin America and Caribbean Region Events Coordinator, at .
Technical Requirements
  • Personal computer or device with high-speed internet access
  • Access to Zoom platform through Internet browser or computer application
Refund/Cancellation policy
  • No refunds or cancellations will be issued one month prior to the course
  • Registrants who are unable to participate may designate a substitute to attend in their place
  • Cancellations and substitution requests should be sent to
James Pindell
Emily Smith Llinás AAPG Latin America & Caribbean Region Manager
Diana Ruiz Vásquez AAPG Latin America & Caribbean Region Events Coordinator
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The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) does not endorse or recommend any products and services that may be cited, used or discussed in AAPG publications or in presentations at events associated with AAPG.