Abstract

In the current context of continuous supply of energy, the discovery and development of new prospects will rely on our ability to detect reserves in deeper and structurally more complex formations. These exploration areas stretch the capabilities of currently available three-dimensional (3-D) exploration software, which cannot accommodate a realistic geometrical description of present-day geological structures and the tectonic deformation steps. Correctly handling the kinematics of structural deformation and evaluating the pressure regime and temperature history at the scale of exploration will remain as challenges for several years to come. In this article, we focus on geometric aspects using a reversible kinematic approach to deform and restore faulted and folded structures. Kinematic modeling is a good alternative to the complexity of a mechanical approach and is sufficiently representative of the natural processes involved (sedimentation, erosion, and compaction). Its reversibility ensures that the basin parameters need to be defined only once for both the restoration and the deformation steps. The model describes the incremental development of the basin in space and time. It is based on a hexahedral discretization process that is fully adapted and appropriate for thermal and fluid transfer. Different deformation modes (flexural slip and vertical shear) are mixed to integrate natural deformation more effectively. The algorithm is validated using different geological examples of growing complexity up to curved normal and thrust faults. The approach offers various prospects for improvement, integrating both kinematic and mechanical constraints. Considering the challenges that the industry needs to overcome in future exploration, the results of this approach are very encouraging and can be considered as a solution for solving the structural part of 3-D basin modeling in complex areas.

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