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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 l.jpg
What are Sedimentary Basins?

Holes in the ground where sediment accumulates

Global distribution: Sub-aerial and submarine

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Why are Basins Interesting?


Oil, Gas, Coal

Ores & Minerals

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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

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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

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Peak Oil: Supply Peaks & Declines Smoothly?

Technology buffers decline?

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Basins form through Tectonic Subsidence

Accommodation Space

Sea-Level Change

Tectonic Uplift / Subsidence

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World’s Thickest Sediment Accumulations

Thickest sediment accumulations are 15 to 20 km

Tend to form in enclosed basins supplied by major rivers

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Probing Sedimentary Basins

  • Surface sampling and mapping

  • Topography and bathymetry

  • Boreholes (<5 km)

  • Seismic experiments (2D, 3D, 4D)

  • Earthquake analysis

Undeformed basins are subsurface

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12 km surface sampling / mapping

Seismic Reflection Imaging

Ninian Fault Block, North Sea

vertical exageration x3 to x4

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Seismic Reflection Imaging Technology surface sampling / mapping

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Borehole Records surface sampling / mapping

1. Thicknesses

2. Ages

3. Sediment Composition

Reconstruct sediment acccumulation history

Hence reconstruct tectonic subsidence history

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Stratigraphic Growth surface sampling / mapping

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Timing of source maturation: surface sampling / mapping

Cumulative Stratigraphy Plot

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Sediment Loading Correction surface sampling / mapping

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Tectonic Subsidence Curves surface sampling / mapping

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Basin Classification: Process surface sampling / mapping

‘Basin Analysis’, Allen & Allen, Chapter 1

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Basin Classification: This Course surface sampling / mapping

  • Extensional basins (60-70%)

  • Flexural or foreland basins (10-20%)

  • Basins associated with subduction zones

  • Other basin types…