This integrated study provides a geological and geochemical framework for upper Miocene and Pliocene siliciclastic gas plays in the Macuspana Basin. Structural controls for the plays are deep-seated faults that tap Mesozoic thermogenic gas sources, areas of intense shale diapirism and folding, and areas with structural inversion that could enhance trapping and reservoir productivity. Early Neogene thrusting south of the basin triggered evacuation of Oligocene shale along northwest-dipping listric faults in the eastern and southeastern basin margin. These faults are associated with large-scale rollover structures and thick (>500 m) upper Miocene shoreface and wave-dominated deltaic complexes. A second phase of extension in the early Pliocene formed a set of broad, southeast-dipping listric faults in the western basin, controlling thick accumulations of stacked Pliocene shoreface deposits. Trap formation and enhancement in the southern basin margin are linked to late Miocene to Pliocene inversion.

The primary stratigraphic controls on play occurrence in the upper Miocene in the onshore part of the basin are the regional facies distribution of northwest-prograding shoreface and wave-dominated deltaic systems. There was a shift in Pliocene sedimentation from the southeast to the west and northwest parts of the basin, where thick successions of aggradational shoreface and wave-dominated deltaic deposits accumulated in depocenters defined by shale evacuation along growth faults. Valley-fill deposits in both the upper Miocene and Pliocene resulted from shortlived periods of base-level change induced by either uplift on the southern basin margin or eustasy. The offshore part of the basin is inferred to consist of deep-water turbidite deposits that formed downdip (westward) of a hypothesized mixed clastic-carbonate prograding complex from the Yucatan platform.

Three petroleum systems (Mesozoic, Paleogene–lower Neogene, and upper Miocene–Pliocene) contributed to the hydrocarbon accumulations and hydrocarbon generation and migration in the basin. Principal Upper Jurassic/Lower Cretaceous source rocks generated wet thermogenic gases and oil. Secondary lower Tertiary source rocks generated dominantly dry biogenic gases. Mixtures of the two gas types are common. Numerous deep-seated growth faults and faults serve as pathways for Mesozoic-sourced hydrocarbons. Surface seeps and abundant gas shows suggest that hydrocarbons are being generated today.

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