The Hides anticline in the Papua New Guinea fold belt is the core part of the Papua New Guinea liquified natural gas project that commenced production in 2014, yet little is known about its internal structure, particularly at depth. The structure of the upper 3 km (9843 ft) is relatively well constrained from surface data, recent development wells, and poor-quality two-dimensional seismic data, but the deep structure has been obscure. Seismic data and gravity modeling suggest an underlying large normal fault in basement. Forward geometrical modeling using MoveTM and four-dimensional analog sandbox modeling under an x-ray tomography scanner have greatly constrained the structural interpretation. The modeling confirms the presence of the underlying basement normal fault and suggests that it was mildly inverted prior to the onset of pure compression deformation in the sedimentary section. The main detachment level was just above basement approximately 8–10 km (∼5–6 mi) beneath the surface, but this ramped up at the basement fault creating an array of triangle-zone faults through the overlying sedimentary section, building the Hides anticline. The early inversion was instrumental in initiating a back thrust and hinterland-verging tight fold in the Mesozoic section, including the source, reservoir, and seal. Deformation in the thick Miocene carbonates at the surface was detached from that in the underlying reservoir along an Upper Cretaceous mudstone horizon that varies strongly in thickness such that the 2–4-km (6562–13,123-ft)-high Mesozoic structure verges northeast and the overlying Miocene structure verges southwest. Analog modeling shows that a ductile stratigraphy is required with slow strain rates of approximately 1–3 km/m.y. (∼3281–9843 ft/m.y.).

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