Abstract

Following a 36-fold seismic survey that covered 460 km, two exploratory wells were drilled between July 1991 and August 1993 in the Ahuas area, on the Patuca tectonic belt, in the Mosquitia savannah in northeastern Honduras. The Embarcadero 1 well encountered only dense, barren, gray and red siliciclastics and some phyllite at total depth. The Raiti-Tara 1 well also drilled mostly barren, but less dense, red beds that included some Upper Cretaceous limestone conglomerate in the lower section. We did not find source or reservoir rocks in either well, nor did we find hydrocarbon shows. The absence of Lower Cretaceous limestone in both wells is significant because more than 1500 m of limestone are exposed 35-50 km southwest in the Colon Mountains. The lithology of the clastics in the Embarcadero well is similar to Middle and Upper Jurassic formations in central Honduras. The lithology of the softer red beds in the Raiti-Tara well suggests they are Tertiary fill in a pull-apart basin. The Mosquitia basin, including the Ahuas area, probably was on the seaward side of the Chortis block (once part of Mexico) and received only Jurassic sediments until it was elevated by arc magmatism in the Early Cretaceous. However, thick Lower Cretaceous platform carbonates were deposited some distance inland. Lateral forces in the early Late Cretaceous caused the outer edge of Chortis to break up, carrying the Colon carbonate block up to 50 km northwest by sinistral fault movement. Later, antithetic dextral displacement offset the various blocks and created pull-apart basins that filled with Tertiary sediments. In the early Paleocene, compression from a spreading center to the southeast ruptured the Jurassic rocks, creating a decollement and later thrusting. No complete petroleum system seems to exist along the axis of the uplifted Patuca tectonic belt largely because of the lack of organic-rich source rocks and the presence of complicated young structures.

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