Abstract

The Ramu Basin lies along a plate boundary where the Finisterre terrane is colliding with the Indo-Australian Plate. Estimates for the age of initial collision range from early Miocene to middle Pliocene. Two unsuccessful wells (Keram 1 and Tsumba 1) drilled to basement and two-dimensional seismic data show that folded and faulted early to middle Miocene carbonates and clastics (the Wogamush sequence) are overlain by relatively undeformed Pliocene marine clastics (the Wewak sequence) along a regional unconformity. The pre-Pliocene section, which is at the crux of resolving the age of initial collision, has been correlated previously to the Finisterre terrane. Clastics within that section, derived from older terranes south of the basin, imply an early Miocene age for collision. I propose that Miocene sedimentary and volcanic rocks in the two wells are correlative with the Wogamush beds of the Maramuni arc. The Ramu Basin can then be viewed as having a two-stage evolution. During the Miocene, the basin was part of the Maramuni arc, the polarity of which is unresolved. A collisional successor basin developed in the late Miocene as the Finisterre terrane (Adelbert block) collided with the arc. Thrust faults on the northeastern side of the basin, truncated by a regional unconformity, are interpreted to mark the suture of the Adelbert block. A northern earliest Pliocene sediment source for the basal Wewak sequence was probably the Finisterre terrane, but multiple source areas are inferred for the rest of that sequence. Middle Pliocene inversion of the basin's northeastern flank, characterized by reverse faulting and forced folding, is attributed to plate boundary reorganization caused by rifting in the Bismarck Sea. The Ramu Basin has numerous untested structures related to both collision and basin inversion. Folded Miocene carbonates (Wogamush sequence) pose a considerable risk regarding the presence of reservoir, and the Wewak sequence is dominated by volcanolithic arkoses with poor reservoir quality on the northeastern side of the basin, where they are in structural closure. Gas-prone source rocks are present, but are largely immature. Reservoir and charge considerations place the Ramu Basin in the very high risk sector for exploration.

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