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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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what are sedimentary basins
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: 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


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

probing sedimentary basins
Probing Sedimentary Basins
  • Surface sampling and mapping
  • Topography and bathymetry
  • Boreholes (<5 km)
  • Seismic experiments (2D, 3D, 4D)
  • Earthquake analysis

Undeformed basins are subsurface


12 km

Seismic Reflection Imaging

Ninian Fault Block, North Sea

vertical exageration x3 to x4


Borehole Records

1. Thicknesses

2. Ages

3. Sediment Composition

Reconstruct sediment acccumulation history

Hence reconstruct tectonic subsidence history


Timing of source maturation:

Cumulative Stratigraphy Plot

basin classification process
Basin Classification: Process

‘Basin Analysis’, Allen & Allen, Chapter 1

basin classification this course
Basin Classification: This Course
  • Extensional basins (60-70%)
  • Flexural or foreland basins (10-20%)
  • Basins associated with subduction zones
  • Other basin types…