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Sedimentary Basins (Part One). What are Sedimentary Basins?. Holes in the ground where sediment accumulates Global distribution: Sub-aerial and submarine. Why are Basins Interesting?. Hydrocarbons: Oil, Gas, Coal Ores & Minerals. Some estimates….

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Sedimentary Basins (Part One)

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Sedimentary Basins(Part One)

What are Sedimentary Basins?

Holes in the ground where sediment accumulates

Global distribution: Sub-aerial and submarine

Why are Basins Interesting?


Oil, Gas, Coal

Ores & Minerals

Some estimates…

Liquid hydrocarbon production will peak in

~10 years at 30 Billion Barrels per annum,

declining to ~5 Billion Barrels per annum

by the end of the 21st Century

Keeping up Supply: Polar Exploration?

Keeping up Supply: Deep Water Exploration?

Keeping up Supply: Importance of Technology

1988 and 1995 3D seismic surveys

BP Forties Field:

Monthly Average Oil Production Rate

1973 Year 2003


Seismic Reflection Imaging

Deep Water drilling/production

Finding: Direct hydrocarbon Indicators

Extracting: Mopping up the dregs

Peak Oil: Supply Peaks & Declines Smoothly?

Technology buffers decline?

Why does Sediment Accumulate Here?

Basins form through Tectonic Subsidence

Accommodation Space

Sea-Level Change

Tectonic Uplift / Subsidence

World’s Thickest Sediment Accumulations

Thickest sediment accumulations are 15 to 20 km

Tend to form in enclosed basins supplied by major rivers

Sedimentary basins around Ireland

Probing Sedimentary Basins

  • Surface sampling and mapping

  • Topography and bathymetry

  • Boreholes (<5 km)

  • Seismic experiments (2D, 3D, 4D)

  • Earthquake analysis

Undeformed basins are subsurface

Very little of a typical underformed basin is accessible by surface sampling / mapping

12 km

Seismic Reflection Imaging

Ninian Fault Block, North Sea

vertical exageration x3 to x4

Seismic Reflection Imaging Technology

Borehole Records

1. Thicknesses

2. Ages

3. Sediment Composition

Reconstruct sediment acccumulation history

Hence reconstruct tectonic subsidence history

Stratigraphic Growth

Timing of source maturation:

Cumulative Stratigraphy Plot

Sediment Loading Correction

Tectonic Subsidence Curves

Basin Classification: Process

‘Basin Analysis’, Allen & Allen, Chapter 1

Basin Classification: This Course

  • Extensional basins (60-70%)

  • Flexural or foreland basins (10-20%)

  • Basins associated with subduction zones

  • Other basin types…

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